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Tuesday Team Talk: South American stars letting down the Premier League

By Jamie Dickenson

Around thirty South American players turn out each weekend for Premier League clubs across the country, with the majority a credit to their employers.

However this season two of the continent’s most famous sons have acted in a manner that jeopardises the foundations of not just their teams, but the league and English football as a whole.

The two derided footballers I am talking about are Luis Suarez and Carlos Tevez.

Both undeniably fantastic strikers, able to win games on their own and carry sides with their rugged approach to defences, determination to succeed and pin-point finishing.

However, they are currently both known, simply, as trouble.

The case of Luis Suarez is as regrettable as it is unresolved. Liverpool signed the £22.3million forward last January with the windfall the Merseyside giants received from the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

Suarez initially lit up the league from the offset, helping his team move up from twelfth to sixth position in the second half of last season. He started this campaign brightly too, even making the 23 nominees for the coveted Ballon d’Or trophy.

It was as 2011 came to an end that things started to go badly for the Uruguayan. In October he was involved in a racial incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, before being charged with improper conduct from the FA for flipping his middle finger at Fulham fans during an away game.

Later in December, Suarez was banned for eight games for his part in the incident with Evra, and this weekend Suarez marked his return to Anfield by failing to shake the hand of the man who he racially abused.

An appalling act. A despicable decision. A shameful situation.

“I should have shaken Patrice Evra’s hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions. I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football.”

Luis Suarez may have apologised, but some will find it hard to forgive and forget. Unfortunately the player is yet to show any remorse over the racist comments he made, preferring to say sorry instead for the handshake that never was.

Kenny Daglish also voiced his apologies, saying: “I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.”

It was correct of ‘King Kenny’ to recognise his response to Sky Sports’ Geoff Shreaves’ questioning as irrevocably beyond the pale, yet no mention of the ill-advised public backing of his star player throughout the entirety of the affair was aired.

It has been reported that intervention from Liverpool’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, made their concerns known to player and manager after being consulted by sponsors Standard Chartered about the subject.

The bank’s primary worry was that the issue may affect their main revenue streams in Asia and the Far East. You know you are in the wrong when the bankers are taking the moral high ground.

Anyway, one can only hope that now sorry has been said – and Suarez, Daglish and the club itself have finally seen the error of their ways – the entire case can be put to bed.

Even so, I would staunchly argue that the FA needs to continue to focus its concentration on helping to eradicate this awful prejudice from the game.

Micah Richards’ agent recently revealed the right back had shut down his Twitter account because of the racial abuse he received, and he is not the only one to have suffered such treatment.

A student from Burnley will appear in court today after racially insulting former pro Stan Collymore on the social media website, whilst Louis Saha has also told of racially disparaging comments made towards him on Twitter.

Racism is the scourge of our game at this current moment, and needs to be eradicated. Luis Suarez now has a second chance to repent his sins, but his actions since the initial incident with Patrice Evra in October have let down himself, his club, this league and his country.

Another man from the American sub-continent who has hit the headlines this season for all the wrong reasons is Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez.

The Argentinian’s supposed return to Eastlands this week is a shocking sign for English football.

A player previously claimed by Roberto Mancini to have kicked his last ball for the club, it appears Tevez is now being welcomed back with open arms by the Italian five months after fleeing to his home country.

And yet Tevez cannot bear to keep quiet about the issue that led him to abandon ship at City, claiming yesterday that the manager ‘treated him like a dog’.

I fail to see how a player being told to warm up and take to the pitch to partake in the professional sport they are paid for is akin to being treated like an animal, but then a lot of what the former United striker says and does completely baffles me.

It is remarkable to think that City are allowing the player anywhere near the club considering his absence without leave, and in my opinion they should have cut their losses in the January transfer window to a European club silly enough to take him.

Mancini now says that the team could use Tevez’s input in the remaining three months of the season, but just how the fans will respond to his return is anyone’s guess.

Suarez and Tevez are not representative of all South American exports in the Premier League, as a number of stars from that part of the world have achieved only good things in English football.

Jonas Gutierrez, Ramires and Antonia Valencia are just some players from the continent who you would struggle to find a bad word to say against.

But even so, the nature of Suarez and Tevez’s behaviour this season has been particularly underwhelming, and reflects poorly on English football.

Let’s hope that at the end of the season these players have put their childish and derisory actions behind them and made themselves something to be proud of on their home continent.

Follow Jamie Dickenson https://twitter.com/#!/jdickenson2010 @jdickenson2010

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