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ESPN apology over Suarez 'cheat' insult

THE fallout from Luis Suarez's controversial goal in Liverpool's FA Cup win at Mansfield continued yesterday when ESPN apologised for its coverage of the incident and the non-League club's chairman said the Uruguayan "should be embarrassed".

Suarez sealed Liverpool's place in the fourth round, where they will play Oldham, after scoring the decisive goal in Liverpool's 2-1 win on Sunday. Television replays clearly showed the Uruguayan to have controlled the ball with his right hand before kicking it into the net.

The striker's actions prompted ESPN's commentator Jon Champion to declare: "That, I'm afraid, is the work of a cheat." The broadcaster yesterday said it had reprimanded Champion for his comments.

In a statement, it said: "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."

Suarez's behaviour was defended by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, with the Ulsterman insisting that the handball was not deliberate. That view, perhaps unsurprisingly, found little support at Mansfield, with chairman John Radford claiming he would have been ashamed had one of his players scored by similar means.

"I would have been absolutely embarrassed if one of my players had done that," Radford said. "I'd have been embarrassed and the man (Suarez) should be embarrassed. To be honest, the Liverpool directors felt embarrassed.

Denied

"To do it deliberately and then celebrate is the hardest thing. If you're going to cheat, then fair enough, but if you're going to cheat and then celebrate cheating, well, there you go."

But Radford insisted that his club would overcome the disappointment. "They've denied us a replay, but it doesn't matter," he said. "I know that I'm big enough and daft enough to be able to stand up for the club and take us forward, but it's hurtful for the league we are in.

"As Mansfield Town chairman, it's not business, it's about having fun, this is the team I love. I'm here for the passion.

"For Liverpool, it's all about business and where you are (in the Premier League). It was a killer, but a professional club will do that sort of thing to a non-league team.

"Compared to the Liverpool fans, our fans are true fans. They paid their £20 for a ticket and they were there and they queued up overnight. Liverpool fans were probably all corporate because we out-sang them."