Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has reopened the racism row which dogged his - and the club’s – season by describing his eight-match ban as strange and insisting his “conscience is clear”.
The Uruguay international was banned after an independent panel appointed by the Football Association found him guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in a match at Anfield last October.
Suarez insisted throughout he had done nothing wrong and has never publicly apologised to the Frenchman.
And he still feels a sense of injustice now.
“The suspension, I suppose, you could call strange and unbelievable,” the 25-year-old said in an interview with Russia Today.
“There was not a single convincing proof that I had done any of the things they accused me of doing.
“I accepted it without saying anything, obviously because they could have made [the suspension] longer and it would have just made the whole thing continue, but my conscience is completely calm, and so is that of the club and my family.
“Everyone knows that in Uruguay there is a huge black population.
“I had team-mates and friends of both colours all the time in the national team, in Liverpool, in Holland, where the majority are from Surinam, and I never had any problem with them.
“Holland is one of the countries in the world where there is the highest number of black players and at no point was there an issue.”
Suarez suggests there was a conscious campaign to get him suspended, but although he remains unhappy with his treatment by the Football Association and the media, he did not specify whom he blamed for that.
“It seems to me they had to get rid of a Liverpool player and, well, they definitely were gratified by all of this,” he added.
“What the English press has said about me does not interest me.
“What interests me is what they say about me in Uruguay and in Liverpool, and they have always been very supportive.
“After the suspension I was told the fans would taunt me, they would whistle me, insult me and shout at me, but to be honest it is not something I was worried about.
“Everyone whistled me in all of the stadiums I played in all the time any way, even before the allegation of racism.
“I tried to pay it as little attention as possible to focus on what I like to do, which is to play.”