Sir Alex Ferguson has broken his silence over Luis Suarez's ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, saying he believes the penalty was justified.
Suarez, the Liverpool striker, was suspended for eight games and fined £40,000 (Dh229,025) after being found guilty of using insulting words towards the Manchester United left-back, with reference to Evra's skin colour.
Liverpool responded with a strongly worded statement in which they criticised the English Football Association and claimed Evra should also face charges after he admitted insulting Suarez during the altercation. Liverpool players wore T-shirts in support of the Uruguayan before their draw with Wigan Athletic on Wednesday.
Ferguson initially insisted he had "nothing to say" about the T-shirts, but last night implied the Reds should accept the sanction.
"Our support of Patrice was obvious right from the word go and that's still the same," said the United manager, in comments reported by The Guardian.
"The matter is over and I think we're satisfied that they [the FA's independent commission] found the right decision.
"This wasn't about Manchester United and Liverpool at all. It was nothing to do with that. This was an individual situation where one person was racially abused."
Ferguson also drew parallels with Evra's four-game ban in 2008 following an incident involving Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.
"Patrice got that suspension for the incident down at Chelsea when no-one was there, just a groundsman and our fitness coach," he said. "He got a four-match ban and we had to wait two weeks for the evidence to come through.
"We were quite astounded at that. A four-match ban? We thought it was well over the top for a trivial incident. But it happened and there's nothing you can do about it, you know."
There appears little chance of Liverpool backing down, though, with manager Kenny Dalglish defending the squad's response and suggesting their support of Suarez has helped bring them together.
"The statement couldn't have caused anyone any trouble and I don't think the players have caused any trouble with the FA, either by their statement or support by their T-shirts," Dalglish said.
"If we are not in any trouble we will leave it at that before we do get in any trouble."
With the matter set to rumble on for some time there is a danger it might become the predominant issue concerning Liverpool and players could be affected.
Dalglish said the squad's stance had actually had a positive effect, particularly on Suarez.
"He's been quite emotional and very grateful," he said. "I don't think it is ever a disappointment when the people you work for give you their undivided support and I think that is the least he deserves."
Dalglish has called for the introduction of guidelines advising clubs on what language is and is not acceptable.
"It would be helpful to everyone if someone gave us some guidelines about what you can and cannot say," he was quoted as saying in The Independent.
* Press Association
European football round-up, s6-7