'A strong stance'
Luther Blissett believes Luis Suarez's ban sends out a robust message that racism won't be tolerated.
Last Updated: 27/12/11 8:50am
Luther Blissett believes the FA have sent out a powerful message by handing Luis Suarez an eight-game ban after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.
The Liverpool striker was sanctioned on Tuesday for comments he made during the Reds' match with Manchester United on October 15.
The Uruguayan's punishment, which includes a £40,000 fine, is suspended pending any appeal, which Liverpool would have 14 days to lodge once they receive written confirmation of the charge.
"The most important thing that we can take from it is that the FA have sent out a clear message that they do take it seriously and that there will be a punishment if you are found guilty," Blissett told Sky Sports News HD.
"We all welcome that and hopefully it will be a deterrent because it's not something we want to tolerate in football or in society.
"I believe he was found not to be racist but that he used terminology that was insulting, so proportionally is it right?
"At least they've done something about it, which is the most important thing, and eight games does send a message to people; it's an awful lot of your season, plus the fine."
Blissett - who insists that "cultural differences" are no excuse for using racist language - now works for the Show Racism the Red Card charity.
He believes his organisation, and others like it, have played a significant role in trying to remove racism from the game - but he also thinks that much more education is needed in order for it to be eliminated.
"When England were in Spain about five or six years ago, the black England players received abuse every time they went near the ball," said Blissett.
"That was the sort of treatment you got pretty much at every stadium you went to up and down the country, every Saturday and midweek. It was relentless. That's what you had to go through while trying to concentrate and do your job.
"Players of my generation have come through all of that to make a career and, thankfully, due to the work that the likes of Show Racism the Card and other charities have done, there's a better level of understanding.
"But education is very much needed. That's the reason we do what we do. The ones that can make a real difference will be the next generation of kids. If they can be more tolerant and understanding of people of different nationalities and ethnicities, the world will be a better place.
"When we come across it, we need to stand up. If we can stand shoulder to shoulder and say this is not acceptable, we'll get less and less of it. But if people keep quiet and suffer in silence, then we'll never get rid of it."
Blissett continued: "Football is trying and it really kick-started the idea of dealing with the issue of racism in a wider aspect. We should commend it for seeing that and doing something about it.
"The PFA are very supportive to us. We also go to the clubs and put on workshops and invite local schools in and talk to them about the issue.
"We also have players from those clubs that the kids can ask questions to regarding their experiences. Clubs are very supportive and they want to see the back of (racism)."