“He’s been crucified by some and that’s not fair”

The racism row that looks set to rumble on into 2012, Kauto Star, SPOTY, the Leveson enquiry… some of the week’s sporting quotes

Liverpool players, with their controversial T-shirts that offer support to Luis Suarez

“He’s been crucified by some people and that’s not fair. He is not racist. I am 100 per cent sure that Luis is not racist. That’s what he has been accused of and it’s not fair. To say he’s guilty and give him eight games is not even close to being fair. We have shown our support to Luis as we want him to know, and everyone to know, that we are right behind our team mate. He deserves it. He’s a lovely guy. It is difficult when you are accused of something like this. It is not nice” Pepe Reina, Liverpool goalkeeper after all the players wore Suarez T-shirts in support of the Uruguay striker

“I really didn’t think it was fine to wear the T-shirt. It’s not okay to use racist language and the message they sent out was wrong. I don’t mind them giving support to Mr Suarez, but it’s a bit wrong to wear the T-shirt because that means they have allowed racist language. I just don’t understand it” Olivier Bernard, former Newcastle defender now working for pressure group Show Racism the Red Card

“We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United team mates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken. It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act. It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations. Luis himself is of a mixed race family background as his grandfather was black… he has played with black players and mixed with their families whilst with the Uruguay national side and was captain at Ajax Amsterdam of a team with a proud multi-cultural profile, many of whom became good friends. It seems incredible to us that a player of mixed heritage should be accused and found guilty in the way he has based on the evidence presented” Liverpool FC official statement.

“Nowhere in the tide of indignation and Liverpudlian love for Luis Suárez has the most important point been conceded. As the wagons circle ever tighter around Anfield there is still no acknowledgement that Suárez used terminology against Patrice Evra that deserves no place in a civil society. Liverpool and their extended family of fans have fought some stirring campaigns down the years. But this is not one of them” Paul Hayward, Daily Telegraph.

“You can’t replace working with Jimmy. He brings us an authority and an experience that is almost irreplaceable. I worked with Jimmy on my debut. I was so nervous my knee was bouncing up and down during the first half. Eventually I felt a hand on my knee and it was Jimmy. It was his way of calming me down and letting me know I was doing OK” Conor McNamara, BBC radio sport commentator, on the hugely respected top pundit, Jimmy Armfield, 76, who has been gracing press boxes around the country’s football grounds for 30 years.

“It’s good to hear the union jack being played at the European championships” Brendan Foster in BBC commentary.

“There are all kinds of champions, human and equine, who claim a piece of the nation’s affection, but some of them offer a special gift. It is the idea that you are never done. That you can grow strong at those places which have been broken and, in the opinion of some, irreparably” James Lawton lauds the fifth win of the King George V steeplechase on Boxing day by Kauto Star in The Independent.

Cavendish: SJA Sportsman of the Year, which the British public agreed with

“That’ll dampen the half-time cup of tea” Craig Burley, football pundit for ESPN.

“It’s in danger of becoming the Coldplay of awards ceremonies — safe, formulaic and with its best years behind it, which may explain why the band’s music figured so prominently… But the best laughs were to be had counting the number of cutaways to sportswomen in the audience (I counted 327) just to prove that they do exist despite the all-male final shortlist” Des Kelly, Daily Mail.

“It’s not like I’m Ricky Hatton who’s been knocked out. I’ve just lost a darts match” Phil Taylor, the 15-time world champion, after his second-round exit of the 2011 Ladbrokes world darts championships to Dave Chisnell.

“He’s here Cassius Joseph Barton. 7 pound 3 oz. Mother and baby are fine. Wow what a blessing that is……. #quivereringwreck” Joey Barton announces the birth of his son on Twitter. Whatever happened to the births, deaths and marriages columns of daily newspapers?

“My sports editor said ‘Leave it with me, I can see what we can come up with’. That same day I got a call from the sports editor who said: ‘You’re absolutely right, the story is true, I’ve got his medical records with me at the moment.’ It was put to Alex Ferguson that we wouldn’t use this information and in the end it was mentioned to him we would keep it quiet and keep it out of the public domain and because of that he then started co-operating with the paper. I was told that sometimes you’d get a situation where if an investigator sent a fax to a GP or a hospital saying ‘I’m his specialist, I need these details’, it was incredible how often that would just get sent straight back” Matt Driscoll, former News of the World sports reporter, in evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.