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Liverpool defender Johnson hits back at Irish legend Paul McGrath in Suarez racism row

Irish football legend said he would have thrown the Suarez-emblazoned t-shirt ‘to the floor’ after the guilty verdict.

McGrath in full flight against Italy in 1990.
McGrath in full flight against Italy in 1990.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

IRELAND FOOTBALL GREAT Paul McGrath is at the centre of a row with Liverpool defender Glen Johnson.

The former Aston Villa and Manchester United defender came out strongly in the wake of Liverpool’s reaction to Luis Suarez being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.

Kenny Dalglish and his squad wore t-shirts with the forward’s image on the front and name and number on the back before the Wigan game in midweek.

But McGrath yesterday insisted he would have “thrown his shirt to the floor” rather than pull on the jersey in a show of support.

“If I was in Glen Johnson’s situation, I’d have thrown the shirt to the floor,” he told talkSPORT yesterday.  ”If that had been someone in my time and I’d heard the comments or I’d even suspected he was guilty, and obviously there has been a tribunal, then I would not wear a T-shirt with his name on it, saying all is well and good here.

“There are a lot of children that watch these games and to have done what they did, doing their warm-up in T-shirts with his smiling face on it, having just been done for a supposedly racist comment to one of his opponents, is shameful for football.

“It puts the anti-racism campaign back to the beginning as far as I’m concerned.”

Liverpool players warm up before Wednesday’s draw. Images: PA

Johnson however hit back on Twitter, writing: “I will support who i want when i want!!! There are a lot of reasons why I’m standing by Luis Suarez!!!”

McGrath’s comments on the British station came hours after he sent several tweets of his own criticising the behaviour of the Anfield club in the immediate aftermath of the FA’s eight-game ban decision.

“Maybe Kenny [Dalglish] is trying to make a statement to the FA but I just think it is in bad taste that he sent them out in those T-shirts. It would have been much better for Liverpool Football Club if they had worn anti-racism shirts,” McGrath added on the airwaves.

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“It’s about respect. There’s this issue going on about respecting your opponents. It is actually a game. The game itself has gone too big, it’s about winning and the money. The actual element of football being a game has long since gone, it is all about protecting your interest, protecting your best players.”

Dalglish has just finished his weekly press conference at Melwood and says he doesn’t see the issue with the t-shirts.

“I don’t think the players have caused any trouble with the FA by their statement or support by their t-shirts,” he said.

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