Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Lesson in Legitimacy from the FA

The English FA's 115 page report (here in PDF) on its investigation of Luis Suarez of Liverpool, who was accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra of Manchester United, is an object lesson in transparency and accountability, which results in enhanced credibility and legitimacy of the organization. FIFA should take note.

The report goes into excruciating detail as to what happened on the pitch, carefully soliciting alternative points of view among participants and even requesting academic experts to weigh in on how to interpret slang and insults across multiple languages used by players in the heat of a high-pressured match.

The FA commission judged that Patrice Evra was the more credible witness, for a range of reasons, and hence decided to level a sanction against Suarez. But the judgement itself is largely irrelevant to the issue of legitimacy. Indeed, one could completely disagree with the judgment and still find the process to be legitimate.

This is exactly what Liverpool FC has done. In a statement released yesterday, after some huffing and hawing, the club announced that it will accept the sanction against their star player:
Liverpool Football Club have supported Luis Suarez because we fundamentally do not believe that Luis on that day - or frankly any other - did or would engage in a racist act. Notably, his actions on and off the pitch with his teammates and in the community have demonstrated his belief that all athletes can play together and that the colour of a person's skin is irrelevant.

Continuing a fight for justice in this particular case beyond today would only obscure the fact that the Club wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Football Association, the Football League and the Premier League to put an end to any form of racism in English football.

It is time to put the Luis Suarez matter to rest and for all of us, going forward, to work together to stamp out racism in every form both inside and outside the sport.

It is for this reason that we will not appeal the eight-game suspension of Luis Suarez.
Kudos to the FA for showing that non-governmental organizations can meet high standards of transparency, due process and credibility, all of which further the legitimacy of the organization's governance role.


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