THE TV COMMENTATOR who labelled Luis Suarez “a cheat” following his controversial goal in Liverpool’s FA Cup win at Mansfield yesterday, has ‘been spoken to’ by his employers at ESPN.
Jon Champion, an experienced football broadcaster, made his views clear while working for satellite station who were carrying live coverage of the match between Premier League side Liverpool and fifth-tier Mansfield at the non-league club’s Field Mill ground.
The ball hit Suarez on the right wrist before he put Liverpool 2-0 up in a game they eventually won 2-1 but the Uruguay striker’s goal was allowed to stand by the referee.
However, as ESPN showed a replay of the incident, Champion said: “That, I’m afraid, is the work of a cheat.”
But an ESPN statement issued today distanced themselves from Champion’s comment, saying: “We take our responsibility to deliver the highest standards of coverage to our viewers.
“ESPN’s editorial policy is for commentators to be unbiased and honest, to call things as they see them. Inevitably this can involve treading a fine line on occasion, especially in the heat of the moment.
“Comments during the Mansfield v Liverpool match caused offence where none was intended and we have spoken to our commentator about this incident.”
Sunday’s incident, above, was just the latest in a series of flashpoints that have dogged Suarez since his arrival in English football, with the most high-profile being his ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last season.
“If it was someone else we probably wouldn’t even be discussing it,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers of Suarez’s goal. “Sometimes these sorts of things will follow players.”
“That’s part of his life. He deals with it remarkably well. He’s got thick skin. He’s had it throughout his life and his career in this country.”