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Arrest spotlights racism concerns in English soccer

From Alex Felton, CNN
updated 12:04 PM EST, Mon January 30, 2012
Patrice Evra played in the game at Liverpool, where a man was arrested on suspicion of making a racially abusive gesture.
Patrice Evra played in the game at Liverpool, where a man was arrested on suspicion of making a racially abusive gesture.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police arrest a man on suspicion of making a racially abusive gesture
  • The alleged abuse comes during a Liverpool match against Manchester United
  • Liverpool Football Club has been involved in several alleged racist incidents
  • England captain John Terry has been arrested on charges of racial abuse

London (CNN) -- Police in England arrested a man Saturday on suspicion of making a racially abusive gesture at a high-profile soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester United earlier that day, they said Sunday.

Charlotte Spink, a press officer for Merseyside police in Liverpool, said the suspect was a 59-year-old from north Wales. She did not name him. He has not been charged.

Police earlier said hate crimes officers were involved in the investigation.

They appealed to the public to help identify a man who appeared to be making a racist gesture and said Liverpool Football Club was cooperating with the probe.

It was the first time Liverpool had played Manchester United since Liverpool's Luis Suarez was suspended and fined for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October.

U.S. star Jozy Altidore was subjected to racial abuse during AZ Alkmaar's cup win at Den Bosch in the Netherlands. The match was halted and the crowd were asked to stop the abusive chanting before the action resumed. U.S. star Jozy Altidore was subjected to racial abuse during AZ Alkmaar's cup win at Den Bosch in the Netherlands. The match was halted and the crowd were asked to stop the abusive chanting before the action resumed.
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Suarez was suspended for eight matches and fined £40,000 ($63,000), England's Football Association announced in December.

Evra said Suarez repeatedly shouted a racial slur at him during the October 15 match and demanded that Suarez be held accountable.

Liverpool issued a statement saying it was "very surprised and disappointed" with the decision.

Suarez did not specify what he said but said it wasn't offensive.

"I didn't insult him. It was only a form of expressing myself. I called him something his own teammates from Manchester call him," Suarez said, according to the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais.

FIFA President denies racism in football

Suarez is from Uruguay. Evra was born in Senegal and plays international soccer for France.

The commission found that Suarez "used insulting words towards Mr. Evra" and that those words "included a reference to Mr. Evra's color," the FA statement said.

Saturday's arrest is the second time this month that a person at a Liverpool match has been accused of racism

Earlier this month, Merseyside police arrested a 20-year-old man on "suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offense" following a Liverpool match against Oldham.

The team made a public apology after Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi complained of being abused by Liverpool fans during a January 7 match.

"All of us are deeply sorry for what happened on Friday night and players and our club pass on our sincere regrets to Tom Adeyemi for the upset and distress he suffered as a result of the matter at hand," the club said in a statement on its website.

Liverpool is not the only top-flight English soccer team to face allegations of racism.

Chelsea's John Terry -- who is also captain of the England team -- has been charged by police for allegedly racially abusing Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand, and will face a court case in February.

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

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