On Saturday Feb. 11, I turned on ESPN2 to watch a much-anticipated return to a legendary, familiar clash; a gritty soccer rivalry: the colorful, passionate, winning institutional clubs of Manchester United and Liverpool playing in the UK Football Association league.
But, as the very polite, opening acts of friendliness and sportsmanship were unfolding, the Uruguyan-born ill-mannered Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, 24, at left, shocked all reasonable people as he refused to shake the hands of Black Frenchman and captain of Manchester United, Patrice Evra, pictured below. It immediately turned into the Suarez show of silliness on global tv channels.
For those who have forgotten, late in 2011, Suarez was found guilty of repeatedly using a racist, derogatory insult against Blacks (especially in Europe) which he (Suarez) directed at Evra.
Despite several denials he made, he admitted to the Football Association that he made the hostile comments during a match between Liverpool and Manchester United in October, 2011.
"I admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once, and only once. I never, ever used this word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I want to apologise for that."
He promised not to use the words again: "I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England."
First, Suarez's latest, un-sportsman refusal to shake a competitor's hand at the professional, international football league on Saturday shows his rank pettiness and childishness. Anyway, his misconduct may be worse, because children are more collaborative and generally forget disagreements to continue playing with each other. But no; not the migrant Suarez.
Second, I think his mean spirit reflects Mr. Suarez's foolish lack of respect for the teeming soccer fans in Britain, the American owners of the Liverpool club he plays for and the sports universe.
Third, I believe that his latest action is another slap, a dirty slap on the face of the British/UK football reputation. "Suarez is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. He should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again" - said Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager) in his reaction to the refusal to shake hands.
Fourth, Suarez's misconduct will continue to raise the temperature of the usually kinetic and giddy British soccer fans (fanatics) and race relation across many sports groups in the world.
Fifth, I think it will be proper and responsible to hand this uncouth fellow and race-baiter Suarez a hefty fine and a long, signal suspension from Liverpool and the UK league. Suarez and irresponsible soccer players like him are not bigger than the UK league or any league, for that matter.
Of course, I agree with Sir Ferguson that Suarez is a disgrace; and I'll just add: Suarez has made himself a very petty, small-minded and polarizing footnote to soccer and its billion fans. Mr. Suarez should, therefore, face consequences for his mean-spirited, crass and derogatory acts of impetuosity.
Chido Nwangwu, is founder and publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans.