Liverpool striker Luis Suarez may have been widely condemned for his behaviour on Tuesday, but the Uruguay camp continues to support him.
During Uruguay’s crucial World Cup Group D encounter against Italy at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, the 27-year-old bit Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder.
There was no indication of provocation from the Juventus defender, and Suarez’s actions shocked the entire footballing world.
It was the third time in his career that Suarez had bit an opponent while on the football pitch, and this time the punishment handed to him was huge.
FIFA has suspended him for nine international matches and has banned him from all football-related activities for four months. It is a severe punishment, and one that Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez does not agree with.
‘As a coach, I think of the theory of the scapegoat’, Goal.com quotes the 67-year-old as saying. ‘Of giving a punishment as an example, so that everyone gets the message of what is good and bad, correct and not... That does not mean I am not justifying anything, I believe he should be punished’.
Tabarez added: ‘It was a decision which is obviously much more focused on the opinions of the media that attacked him immediately at the conclusion of the match and in the press conference afterwards.
‘The journalists took only that topic for the press conference. I don’t know what their nationality was but they all spoke English’.
It was a lengthy statement from the Uruguay coach and once again it had the hint of a ‘Luis Suarez witch-hunt’.
True, the journalists at the press conference against the Uruguay v Italy match may have spoken English, but that could be down to the fact that English is a widely spoken language.
And perhaps everyone was speaking about the Suarez bite after the match because that was the most notable incident in the game.
Until that point, only the dismissal of Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio was the talking point – the contest had been largely flat and not entertaining. It was the Suarez incident that actually made the game come alive and perked up interest in the contest.
Tabarez is not the first Uruguayan personnel to publicly criticise the severe punishment handed out to Suarez. Team captain Diego Lugano also posted a similarly long statement on social networking site Twitter, claiming: ‘Indignation, impotence, I think that is what we all feel. We would all like a more just world, but this world simply does not exist’. (to read his statement in full, click here).
Whether or not Suarez’s punishment is unjust is up for debate, but to claim that there is a media campaign against the Liverpool striker is ludicrous.
The former Ajax star is widely acknowledged – and rightly so - as one of the best players in the world, but until and unless he improves his behaviour on the football pitch, he will continue to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.