UTD Podcast: Evra reflects on Suarez incident
In this seven-minute extract from UTD Podcast, Patrice reveals all about his 2011 confrontation with Luis Suarez...
SH: From an incredible high to an incredible low. I want to talk about Luis Suarez. I know you said when you were young people threw bananas at you and that is a horror that is unimaginable to most people. But to be on the receiving end of that from a fellow professional must have hurt in a totally different way? I think people didn’t know what had happened behind the scenes. It was during the game against Liverpool - we were playing very well and I was marking him during the corner kick. In Spanish he said ‘don’t touch me, I don’t speak with negro’. In English it’s ‘I don’t speak with the n-word’. He maybe didn’t know I spoke Spanish and I asked him what he said and he was like ‘yeah, you’re right, I don’t speak with… the n-word’. The referee came over and asked what was happening with us two. He’d seen my eyes change and he asked if I was ok. I told him he racially abused me and he said ‘ok, we’ll talk after the game. Keep playing and don’t do anything silly’. I remember during that game I was talking to myself saying ‘if you punch him now people will see you as the bad one. People will forget about what he said’. I was talking to myself ‘don’t do… do it…’ I wasn’t focused for the game. After the game, Sir Alex saw he fuming and he asked what had happened. David De Gea told him that Suarez had made a racist comment, he’d heard it. Straight away we went to see the referee and I told him what had happened. I told him what had happened and the next day, boom… Patrice Evra in the papers. I didn’t know it was going to the papers. I thought it was just to the referee. After it was in the paper, and Manchester United received so many threatening letters about me. People said ‘we’re in jail, we’re Liverpool fans. When we get out we’re going to kill you and your family’. For two months I had security everywhere I went. They were sleeping in front of my house. Everywhere I went the security followed me. It was a tough time, but I wasn’t scared. My family were scared: my wife and brother, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t understand why people hated me so much. They didn’t know the truth. When we went to the hearing with Luis Suarez and he started lying and saying when he says negro he means friend. I said ‘ that is not my name. My mum gave me a name, not a collar’. I know that in South America when some fans see a black player they will call him him ‘nero’ and sometimes it’s nice, sometimes not nice. Anyway, my name is not ‘black’, it’s Patrice. So we argued, but Sky have some good footage where you can see him actually say it. In the end he admitted it and he was banned for eight games, and he had a massive fine. I remember after that, Liverpool played a game and they all wore the t-shirts saying ‘support Suarez’. He had been banned for racist abuse, had been fined and they support him that way. I was confused and upset. But when I did the punditry on Sky and Carragher apologised after eight years, I was so surprised. He said they made a big mistake that day and he apologised. It really touched me and now I will respect Liverpool as a football club because when this happened I was really disappointed with the club. I received an email from the chairman of Liverpool apologising for what happened nine years ago. He said I was welcome to come to Liverpool if I need anything. It really touched me because it’s better late than never. But I was surprised that Liverpool supported that kind of attitude. When you have those kind of problems, people around you just think you are crying. Even when I said ‘you will see the report’, people thought I was still talking about it. I wasn’t still talking about it - I even named Suarez player of the year that year. I could evaluate Suarez on the pitch and know the person he was. It was a tough, tough, tough time. SH: You said people even now will say you’re still talking about it, but don’t you think it’s absolutely right that you should talk about it if you want to? Because you were on the receiving end of something horrible. The media play it as a big drama and in it you’re just a character. People say you’re still crying about it, but it was almost like you were in the wrong for pointing out that you were abused… That’s exactly what I feel, to bepointed out when I was abused. I can do my job - I could have punched him on the pitch, but what would I have got? Maybe banned for two years? In front of all the kids and all the people watching the game. That’s when I go to the court, I didn’t say ‘I’m proud to be black, we need to punish him’. No, I said, ‘I don’t know Suarez close enough to know if he’s a racist or not.’ The only thing he did, maybe to disturb my game because I was playing well, he used some racist abuse. That’s it. I will never call Suarez a racist person, because I don’t know him personally. Even when we played in the Champions League final, when I was playing for Juventus, I shook his hand in the corridor and spoke to him. I forgive really fast, but I just don’t understand when someone is being the victim, why the media or even the people around say, ‘Stop crying.’ I don’t cry. I don’t need to cry.