• Ferguson accuses Liverpool of damaging fight against racism
• 'That player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again'
Sir Alex Ferguson branded Luis Suárez "a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club" and said he should never be allowed to play for them again after a toxic 2-1 win for Manchester United that began with the Uruguayan refusing to shake hands with Patrice Evra, the player he racially abused in October.
Ferguson made no attempt to conceal his disgust on a day when the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, tried to argue it was "bang out of order" for anyone to criticise Suárez. Dalglish then refused to attend the post-match press conference as Ferguson accused the Liverpool club of damaging the fight against racism in football.
"For a club with their history, I'd get rid of him, I really would," Ferguson said of Suárez. "He is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. That player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club has got ... and he does that today. It could have caused a riot. I was really disappointed in that guy."
Gordon Taylor believes Liverpool's owners need to step in to deal with the "festering" controversy surrounding Suárez. "The situation is running away with us and this isn't healthy for football," the Professional Footballers' Association's chief executive said. "There is nothing to be gained by the matter festering. Having heard before the game there was going to be handshakes, [and then] that it was so deliberately averted, I just felt quite sick in my stomach."
Suárez was starting his first game since the FA banned him for eight matches on the basis he had called Evra negro, in Spanish, during a row when the teams played at Anfield in October. Police and security guards had to separate the players when Evra went to remonstrate with Suárez at half-time and Ferguson said Suárez was to blame for creating a "terrible atmosphere".
"I couldn't believe it. I just could not believe it," Ferguson said. "We had a chat this morning and Patrice said: 'I'm going to shake his hand, I have nothing to be ashamed of, I'm going to keep my dignity.' And he [Suárez] refuses. It was a terrible start to the game. He's a disgrace."
Dalglish initially claimed in his post-match interview with Sky that he was unaware of what had happened in the lineup. "I didn't know he refused to shake his hand. I'll take your word for it. I wasn't there, so I didn't see it. You'll have to ask Luis. It's contrary to what I was told." Pressed further, he said: "I think you're very severe and you're bang out of order to blame Luis Suárez for anything that happened here."
Suárez later wrote on Twitter: "We lost and we are sad because we have made a big effort … disappointed because everything is not that it seems."
United won the game with two goals from Wayne Rooney early in the second half before Suárez pulled one back in the 80th minute, but the Football Association may take action if the referee, Phil Dowd, refers them to what happened at half-time and full time.
Evra went to remonstrate with Suárez at the interval only for the Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel to block his way, leading to a confrontation between a large group of players. Evra celebrated with deliberate provocation at the end, running a half-lap before getting so close to Suárez that several Liverpool players ran over to confront him.
Ferguson admitted that Evra was wrong to inflame the tensions – "he shouldn't have done that" – but he said Evra was entitled to his moment after the treatment he has suffered. "Liverpool Football Club have a player banned for eight matches, and they've tried to blame Patrice Evra? It's him [Suárez] they should be blaming. He could have cost them a European place. After everything that has been said this week, all the buildup, the atmosphere, I just couldn't believe it."
Ferguson went on to address Suárez kicking the ball against the advertising boards at half-time – "Maybe that's the kind of character he is," he said – before speaking of his belief that Suárez was damaging the fight against prejudice in football.
"We've really got to get our house in order in terms of fighting racism. It's an issue, an absolutely important issue in this country. Football has come a long way from the days of John Barnes, people throwing bananas at him, but we can't go back. We have to go forward in a positive way and ban it all together."
Rio Ferdinand refused to shake Suárez's hand after seeing him snub Evra. "It was bad decision-making from their guy," Ferdinand said. "It could have been put to bed and it would have been made easier if the handshake was done. But after what I saw, I decided not to shake his hand.
"If he has not got the respect that you need in these situations to acknowledge he's made a mistake and say sorry and move on … well, I lost all respect for the guy after that. It's disappointing because I expected more from the other guy."
Before the game Greater Manchester police arrested a man, believed to be a street-seller, on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence because of a "potentially offensive" Suárez T-shirt that had "Klanfield" on it. The police also confiscated several thousand copies of United's Red Issue fanzine because its back cover had a spoof cut-out-and-keep "Suárez is Innocent" poster showing a Ku Klux Klan hood.
The fanzine said they were taking legal advice but the police defended their actions. "We cannot be in a situation where hundreds or thousands of people were displaying offensive images at a football match," the match commander, Ch Supt Mark Roberts, said. "The consequences of taking no action could have resulted in public order incidents inside or outside the ground."