Patrice Evra opens up on Luis Suarez racism row following retirement from football

Defender accused Uruguayan of repeatedly calling him 'negro' during a match between Manchester United and Liverpool in 2011

Liverpool's Luis Suarez used racist language against Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League encounter at Anfield in 2011
Image: Patrice Evra says he has never hated Luis Suarez

Patrice Evra says there is no animosity towards Luis Suarez despite wanting to "punch him" during their racism row in 2011.

The French defender accused Suarez of repeatedly calling him 'negro' during a Premier League game between Manchester United and Liverpool at Anfield.

Suarez later admitted to using the word but insisted it was not in a racist context and was subsequently given an eight-game ban and fined £40,000.

When the two clubs met again in February 2012, Suarez ignored Evra's handshake in the pre-match presentation.

But Evra, who announced his retirement from football last week, admits he has no hatred towards Suarez and even picked him as one of the best players he faced.

Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra ahead of Liverpool's game against Manchester United in February 2012
Image: Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra ahead of Liverpool's game against Manchester United in February 2012

"I don't know if Suarez is a racist. I don't know his family. I don't know his background. But racism is so big for so many years and that day, there was racist abuse." Evra told the Daily Mail.

"So when we went to the hearing, they listened to me because I said I didn't want them to punish him and I don't know him close enough to say he is racist but he used that racist word.

"I don't hate him. I never hated him. I wanted to punch him at the time but for me to hate someone is impossible.

"I don't have hate in my heart. I can react but hate is a strong word for me. When I was asked to pick a team of my best players, I named Suarez as one of my XI."

West Ham and Everton players stand with match officials in support of the Premier League's 'No Room For Racism' campaign 1:18
The PFA is arranging meetings with the government and social media networks, as it steps up its anti-racism campaign

Evra was also critical of how racism in football was tackled by the FA and other governing bodies in England, saying: "I love England. I have lived so many years in England. You can't call the people in England racist. Italy is the same.

"But when they come in the stadium, they start to be like animals, acting like animals. That's when they start to use everything for you to have a bad game.

"Should I call them racists for that? I don't know. There are different ways to hurt a player but I don't know why you have to talk about his origin or colour.

"I don't think it should be up to the players to fight it. It is the league. If the league keeps accepting it, one day something bad will happen.

"The answer is not those official campaigns like Say No to Racism. I don't want to wear the shirt Say No to Racism. They ask me to do those campaigns but I won't because they are fake. The players don't even know what it's about."

Around Sky