Truth is stranger than fiction. Liverpool are to host Man Utd in the FA Cup 4th round at the end of the month in a potentially explosive match that could see many sources of conflagration from fans, players, and even the managers all centered around the Luis Suarez vs Patrice Evra racism row. Matters need to be resolved before Suarez travels to Old Trafford in his first league match back from suspension.
The Merseysiders are yet to apologize or even acknowledge wrongdoing, having closed ranks around Suarez. Their stance has dismayed the chief of the anti-racism group Fare who accused Liverpool of whipping up "tribal fervour" in the fans.
An element of that fervour was visible in the racial abuse a particular fan or fans subjected Tom Adayemi to in the Oldham FA Cup fixture. But the fact that Liverpool have not acknowledged any wrongdoing makes these peace talks difficult. The first step in the reconciliation process is the acknowledgment that there is a problem. The right way to start would be to unequivocally condemn racism as having no place in a tolerant, open society. To be followed by acknowledging Suarez could have overstepped the players code of conduct. Abandoning the albatross of cultural relativism would be another when there is well documented evidence Suarez knew exactly what he was saying could be considered inflammatory. The word "negro" used systematically by Suarez to target Evra was not used in the same way as a sort of offhand pejorative used in South America or Spain.
The person responsible for changing the tone is none other than Kenny Dalglish because it was his responses to questions in the press conference that revealed the depth of denial by Liverpool. King Kenny is directly responsible for the behaviour of his players and because of his cult status, he wields enormous clout with fans. If he climbs down from his pedestal the peace talks will have meaning and result in tangible detente. Otherwise, these talks will be empty words. The unfortunate part will be the expensive and dampening presence of police and health personnel boosted to overwhelming levels to manage any fallout.