SBD/February 14, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Liverpool Denies It Apologized For Suarez' Actions As Result Of Pressure From Sponsor

Suarez (r) has been criticized for refusing to shake Evra's hand Saturday
EPL club Liverpool today denied reports that the team apologized for F Luis Suarez' actions toward Manchester United D Patrice Evra Saturday as a result of "pressure from shirt sponsors Standard Chartered bank," according to the AFP. Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand after having "only recently returned from an eight-game ban for racially abusing" Evra. Liverpool subsequently apologized for Suarez' conduct but, having "steadfastly supported their forward up until that point, there were suspicions they had been pressured into taking action by Standard Chartered." Liverpool insisted today that Managing Dir Ian Ayre and manager Kenny Dalglish had "not been prompted by anyone from outside" the club. A team statement read, "Ian Ayre kept Standard Chartered fully informed of developments over the course of the weekend. The actions the club decided to take on Sunday were supported by Standard Chartered" (AFP, 2/14). In London, Andrew Clark notes Standard Chartered "criticised both the club and its striker." Reacting to Suarez' action, the bank issued a statement that read, "We were very disappointed by Saturday's incident and have discussed our concerns with the club." A source said, "It was a very robust conversation." Liverpool's shirt deal with Standard Chartered is "among the most valuable" in soccer history (LONDON TIMES, 2/14). Also in London, Ian Herbert notes a corporate sponsor "needing to question a player's conduct is rare in the extreme, though the call from a Standard Chartered director to Ayre reflects the bank's determination that its image should not be damaged by involvement in the sport" (London INDEPENDENT, 2/14).

BIGGER ISSUE: ESPN’s Bomani Jones said Suarez’ disrespect for Evra "is documented, but what I think is bigger is his disrespect for the entire campaign they’re trying to have to move past a lot of this racism you see in soccer." Jones: "For him to not shake Evra’s hand is not just saying that to Evra, it’s saying to everybody … and this is a big problem in English soccer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/13).
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