Uruguay fans outraged by Suarez suspension

MALENA CASTALDI
Last updated 03:19 27/06/2014
 Luis Suarez
Getty Images

FLASHPOINT: Uruguay striker Luis Suarez falls to the ground after a clash with Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's controversial 1-0 win.

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Uruguayans were incensed on Thursday (local time) after Fifa suspended their star striker Luis Suarez for nine matches for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, with many slamming the ban as exaggerated, hypocritical, or even biased.

"They're acting as if he were a criminal, a terrorist," said Maria Cardozo, a 48 year-old administrative worker. "They're exaggerating the aggression although I do think it warranted some sort of punishment."

Suarez is synonymous with controversy in much of the world. He has twice before been banned for biting and had to sit out eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

But in small, football-crazed Uruguay, the Liverpool forward is a rags-to-riches hero that his compatriots have passionately defended.

Some were quickly calling foul and blasting global soccer body Fifa's judgment, which leaves Uruguay without its main scorer against Colombia on Saturday (local time) in the first knockout round.

A EUROPEAN 'MANHUNT'

"I don't want to get into conspiracy theories, but it seems that FIFA isn't interested in letting small countries such as Uruguay advance," said 62 year-old lawyer Andres Ramirez.

Local media have lashed out at a British-led 'manhunt' against him, and even leftist president Jose Mujica spoke up for Suarez to be left alone.

"What is incomprehensible is the vitriol with which the English press, in particular, have gone after the Uruguayan. Far worse things have happened on the pitch, even where English players are concerned," said Uruguayan Andreas Campomar, author of "Golazo! A History of Latin American Football".

"For many Latin Americans the ban will have wider repercussions. It will be construed as the usual high-handedness Europe employs in relation to Latin America. A case of one rule for them and one rule for us."

Local paper El Pais splashed the headline 'The Worst Punishment' across its web page, over a picture of Suarez hiding his face in his light blue Uruguayan soccer jersey.

Some tongue-in-cheek commentators argued that according to FIFA's rules, neighbouring Argentina's 1986 World Cup trophy should be removed given Diego Maradona's handgoal in a match against England.

There are, however, some contrary views at home too.

Alcides Ghiggia, the man who scored the winning goal for Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup against Brazil, had told Reuters Suarez deserved a ban.

"I don't know what this kid thinks and what goes through his head... Whether you're Uruguayan or of an other nationality, you always have to reproach these things on the field, this is not a war."

WORLDWIDE REACTION

Reaction to the nine-match ban imposed by Fifa on Uruguay forward Luis Suarez for biting:

Uruguay football association's official Twitter feed:

"Strength Luis! More united than ever. Let's go Uruguay!"

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce:

"I think the punishment handed out by Fifa to Luis Suarez is fully justified. Hopefully, he will realise now that behaviour of this type will not be tolerated under any circumstances."

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Uruguay captain Diego Lugano:

"Indignation, impotence, I think that's what we all feel. We'd all like a fairer world, but that world simply does not exist. Those who rule, rule, and the strong ones are the strong ones... Keep feeling proud of him, he deserves it. Nothing will stop us. We will carry on with humility, union, determination, recognition of mistakes, and with our heads always high."

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre:

"Liverpool Football Club will wait until we have seen and had time to review the FIFA disciplinary committee report before making any further comment."

Sports equipment firm Adidas:

"Adidas fully supports Fifa's decision. Adidas certainly does not condone Luis Suarez's recent behaviour and we will again be reminding him of the high standards we expect from our players. We have no plan to use Suarez for any additional marketing activities during the 2014 Fifa World Cup."

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo:

"I never bit anyone, I know bites hurt. (If) my kids bite me they are punished in the dark room with the big bad wolf: that's the soccer equivalent of not playing soccer for four months."

Glenn Hayes, employment partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell:

"Although Fifa's decision is unlikely to lead to claims by Liverpool FC against Suarez for breach of contract, it has to be said that his value on the transfer market could be reduced as a result ... Suarez may not have been directly representing his employer at the World Cup, but the potential reputational and financial damage is significant."

Andreas Campomar, author of "Golazo! A history of Latin American football":

"For many Latin Americans the ban will have wider repercussions. It will be construed as the usual high-handedness Europe employs in relation to Latin America. A case of one rule for them and one rule for us."

Former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen:

"I think the punishment's fair. Obviously, the worrying thing for any Liverpool supporter was that there was very little or no provocation, and the question is: Will he do it again? Liverpool have got to draw a line under this and say: 'One more indiscretion and it's over'."

Headline in Uruguay newspaper El Pais:

"The Worst Punishment"

Uruguayan lawyer Andres Ramirez:

"I don't want to get into conspiracy theories, but it seems that Fifa isn't interested in letting small countries such as Uruguay advance."

- Reuters

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