John Barnes insists Luis Suarez should never have been put in the position where he had to choose whether to shake Patrice Evra's hand on Saturday, and the former Liverpool winger says the media is to blame for the current fallout from Old Trafford.
Suarez sparked controversy ahead of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Manchester United, appearing to refuse the hand of Evra - the man who accused him of racial abuse earlier this season. As a result, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Suarez a "disgrace to Liverpool Football Club".
However, Barnes believes it would have been fake for Suarez to have shaken Evra's hand, and he is convinced that the media is chief culprit for inciting bad blood between the two clubs. In Barnes' eyes, United and Liverpool would have moved past the situation long ago had the media not persisted in keeping it in the public eye.
"I can tell you they won't be making a big issue over either of the Suarez or John Terry situations in other countries," Barnes told ESPN. "The reputation of English football around the world is not going to be damaged at all.
"I don't care if somebody shakes my hand or not. It's not a big deal, it's insincere, it doesn't mean much, they're shaking hands for show. I don't believe they should be put in that situation.
"We're getting carried away with a bunch of incidents here that, in the bigger picture, don't mean much. Football clubs have to react to it because of what we do in the media. The reality is if Suarez scores 50 goals and United win the league, it's not really important.
"We're making a mountain out of a molehill. We are not the custodians of moral value in the world, we think we are but we're not. There's worse things happening in the world, worse things happening in the country, everything should not be laid at footballers' doors."
Barnes is convinced the handshake ritual should have been scrapped at Old Trafford, but he also believes Evra was as much to blame over the next 90 minutes as Suarez. The United man celebrated directly in the face of Suarez at the full-time whistle, and Barnes insists neither club has come out of the day with any credit.
"I assumed when it was decided that there was going to be the ritual handshake that everybody had agreed that they would shake hands," Barnes said. "When I saw what happened, it made me wonder if Suarez had changed his mind at the last minute.
"I can't imagine that this wasn't discussed by Liverpool. If Luis Suarez said, 'I'm not shaking his hand', which he has every right to if he doesn't want to, then Liverpool should have made all attempts not to have this situation whereby they have to come into confrontation with each other.
"It's a big shock, and obviously it got compounded by Patrice Evra at the end and Sir Alex Ferguson at the end. So it's not a good day from a PR perspective for either club."
Kevin Keegan, also formerly of Liverpool, felt Ferguson was wrong to comment so strongly on Suarez at the full-time whistle. Ferguson stated his belief that the striker should never play for the Reds again, something Keegan argued.
"It's a very strong statement and it's unusual to comment on another club's player," Keegan said. "To come out and say a player shouldn't play for another club is wrong.
"Instead of calming this down they've allowed it to escalate. These are the two biggest clubs in English football. Both clubs have handled it badly.
"Today was a chance to put it all behind them. It was a chance to say to the player, 'Shake his hand and get on with it'. But Evra after the game, why would he want to do that? You've won the game; sometimes as a manager you just don't understand players."
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KK is right - neither club have handled this right , the shaking of hands should be scrapped in my opinion then there won't be a big media circus over any non shaking of hands !
Evra was totally out of order in prancing about at the final whistle , he may have been very wound up but to behave like that when he is captain made me ashamed of my club - his actions were provocative in front Of Suarez , i've always loved the games between these two magnificent clubs over the last 30 years , we should be talking about the game after not these two pricks
Man U sacked poor old Tommy Docherty for an affair. Has the United board under SAF ever penalised the likes of (break your leg) Keane. (attack a supporter) Cantona (Cheat on your Brother's wife) Giggs. (Cheat on your wife with a prostitute and other things) Rooney. (Don't show up for a drug test and sex affairs) Ferdinand. And (Help get your team mate sent of in the WC and wink about it plus the worst cheat in the PL) Ronaldo (crying racial abuse at Stamford Bridge and got a fellow pro suspended for 8 games because he is sensitive) Evra. My point is I don't care about Suarez or Liverpool,but I hate hypocrisy more.Every team has skeletons. SAF shouldn't be so loud.
The f.a. should have scrapped the handshake as they did chelsea Qpr and as much as i respect sac for what he has won i think he should keep his mouth shut. I remember when sac wouldnt talk to the bbc maybe we should go back to that. I dont support either team. Good game and the ref handled it well.
suarez calls evra a nigreto **** is all the fuss about would have been a different story if he had started calling him a tree swinger or monkey nuts but he didn't end of.
evra must have done something to him to start this all off
lets not forget united are far worse
1. shaggin grannies - nice 1 ROONEY
2. shaggin bro,s wife - GIGGS
3. assault on away fans-CANTONA
4. so called team mates trying to get you sent off in international matches- RONALDO
5. missing drugs tests- FERDINAND
6. racial abuse- SCHMEICHEL
7. ending players careers KEANE
8. NEVILLE wouldn't shake schmeichels hand when he moved to city
And that's just for starters so need i say more!!! wankers
I dont hold with racism, but this has gone far beyond that, Evras behavour as a spoilt brat was dreadful. My axe to grind is...how come its an 8 game ban for calling names, but only 4 for deliberatly stamping on someones head?????? Baloteli???
As a kid we chanted.."sticks and stoned may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Respect is a word being bandied in football, respect the mans choice to shake hands or not, get on with the game!!
Less of the drama queens please.
im not a liverpool fan but after looking at the footage a few times, it acutally appears that evra did not extend his hand for the handshake until suarez went past him, so i think the news is being unfair and its more likely a 50 / 50 where both did not wish to shake, looking at the rest of the united team their hands are in the position to shake hands,
The media will keep it alive while pretending to want to see the matter closed. Sky are a disgrace, the TV version of the Sunday Sport. No interest in a match between two famous old clubs, just focusing on a pair of immature players to see how they can stir things up a bit more between two bitter rivals.
Chess nut; you are right about Jonathan Pierce, he is an abysmal commentator; self opinionated, big headed fat git! The BBC are really scraping the barrel with this half wit
Having said that it was amazing how many camera angles there were just for a handshake. Sky sports should be ashamed of themselves as well. As for Jonathan Pierce of the BBC......i don't think i've ever seen a bigger fergie sycophant than him. His interview with auld bacon chops was so full of anti Liverpool sentiment it made me want to throw up. Is he the best the BBC have to offer. At one point i though he was going to stick his tongue down auld bacon face's trousers.
After all was said and done, it was 2-1 to Man U. The rest of it just sells papers and pushes up the TV ratings. Quite sad really how the press polarise with a total disregard for the impact they have on people especially the young. You start to think maybe people who don't look like me or believe in the same thing as me would lookout for someone who did before me so maybe I should do the same. I honestly don't believe we are born pre-programmed to feel this way but influence does this to us. Some of you may 'hate' Fergie, Suarez, Abbott or a group of Somali girls but I hope you are mindful of the influence you personally have on others who are just starting to form their own opinions. Better to focus our attentions on why when we are in recession there are individuals still getting multi-million pound bonuses - they must love us focussing our anger on something other than them...
Andy the Manc......i disagree with you 110% because Barnes is no reactionary, unlike Rio, he has had a hell of a long time to think about the causes and effects of racism in the football world.
Evra is every bit as much to blame as Suarez. If you watch the video of the hand shaking,Evra pulled his hand away as Suarez approached and then when he was past he grabbed his arm and made a big thing of it.
Suarez is a bit young and niave and Evra played on this in the original game by abusing his family to get a reaction and then played the race card when Suarez reacted..
Black people doing this are no better than white racists.
Fergie of course is a past master at playing things up to his advantage and will make a meal of it as long as it is in his favour.
Spot on Rich W and chess nut I am not a Liverpool fan
As for Sir Alex's comments - did he do anything when Cantona did a bad impression of David Carrinde at Crystal Palace?
I see the mancs are following their pied piper SAF to the end of the cliff, after all he has had a few players who have been a disgrace in his time, and put up with them, Keane, Cantona, so he should know. Keane got a 4 game ban for ending the career of a city player, and a bit of verbal in the heat of the moment gets an 8 game ban, if anyone was to be kicked out it was Keano.
The shaking of hands before a game is to beckon to the FA and the PFA clowns, and should be dropped, this is (or was) a contact sport that gets to every supporter, whether in the 4th division or the EPL, it grips you for the whole game, ups and downs highs and lows every week that's why we love the game. Now we have cheats, divers and fakes, who do anything to get a player booked, sent off or suspended. Norman Hunter, Dave Mackay, Chopper Harris, Billy Bremner, Tommy Smith, Paddy Crerand, would have all just got up and waited their time during the game. That skill has gone from the game now, i.e. Gareth Bale at Anfield last Monday night.
Hat off to John Barnes. He has it sussed. I wouldnt have shaken a guys hand that got me a 7 match ban no matter what I called him.
Many players get called very personal names during a match, its not correct but it aint gonna change. Anything to put a player off his concentration, trying to gain a slight advantage.
Anyway I think John Barnes should be appointed Race relations officer for Pro football and media. Maybe clowns like evra and Rio will help their race and not drag it back a decade.
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