I wrote in my last posting that there would be a lot of focus on the ceremonial handshake pre-match ritual, but nothing could have prepared me for the madness that followed SuarezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision not to shake hands with his nemesis at Old Trafford. I personally feel the whole reaction has been over the top and very disproportionate to the indiscretion.
You see, I fully understand why the FA decided to adopt the handshake ritual a few years ago as part of the Respect Campaign, but I refuse to accept that it should be forced on people or on a person who does not want to participate in it because that would be merely playing to the camera and not honouring the purpose of the gesture.
I do not think anyone has any illusions that Evra and Suarez are friends or that they have any genuine respect for each other, particularly if one has read the report from the commission that meted out punishment on the Uruguayan striker. Any handshake between them would, therefore, be dishonest and outright deceitful. The best thing was to avoid putting them on the spot.
I do not support what Suarez did or said at Anfield last October, but I fully understand and back his decision not to offer his hand if he did not feel like shaking EvraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hand last Saturday. I can understand the racism accusation regarding what was said in October, but I do not see how refusing the handshake relates to racism and, if I need to say it, I am very black.
In my view, a handshake that is insincere and without meaning is more insulting than no handshake at all. Suarez may have become the hate figure of English football for following his conscience, but I have more respect for people who do not pretend than I do for those who pander to public opinion against their genuine feelings and beliefs.
That said, I want to join all those who have congratulated Zambia for defying all odds in winning this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. Having beaten all the pre-tournament favourites on their way to glory, the Chipolopolo can be fairly said to have been deserving winners and are worth all the praises that have been flooding their way.
But let us get one thing clear. This is ZambiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s victory. We may be their neighbours, but it is stretching matters to suggest that their victory is also MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s triumph. That is the attitude that has stopped communities, particularly from the Third World, from developing because it stifles ambition and pride. Let us learn to celebrate our own successes and not those of our relatives or neighbours.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that the Uefa Champions League and the Europa League are back. There have been some fervent pleas from some people very close to me not to delve into that area and I would like to honour that request. This world!