Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

FIFA World Cup: ‘Distraught’ Luis Suarez returns home; Giorgio Chiellini, Diego Maradona slam ban

Luis Suarez waves to fans from his home's balcony, alongside his children in Montevideo. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero's welcome despite his World Cup banishment. (Source: AP) Suarez waves to fans from his home's balcony, alongside his children. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero's welcome despite his World Cup banishment. (Source: AP)
Reuters | Montevideo | Posted: June 28, 2014 2:09 am | Updated: June 28, 2014 9:47 am

Luis Suarez flew home to Uruguay on Friday after being thrown out of the World Cup and banned from soccer for four months for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who criticized the punishment as “excessive”.

Liverpool striker Suarez was met by outraged President Jose Mujica when he landed at a military base next to Uruguay’s main airport before dawn, an air force spokesman said.

Mujica had joined hundreds of fans who gathered at the airport on Thursday night to show their support for Suarez but they left after a few hours when it became clear he had not yet left Brazil.

After his arrival on Friday, Suarez, his wife and other family members were driven to a home he has in the small coastal town of Solymar and the player appeared keen on maintaining a low profile. The 27-year-old star striker has not publicly spoken since soccer’s world governing body FIFA ruled on Thursday that he cannot play in Uruguay’s next nine competitive matches and suspended him from all soccer-related activity for four months.

Excessive, says Chiellini

The ban has sparked fury in his homeland and even Chiellini, whose shoulder Suarez sank his teeth into, came out on Friday and said he felt no anger towards the Uruguayan. “Now inside me there’s no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that’s done,” the Juventus centre back said in a statement on his website.

“At the moment my only thought is for Luis and his family, because they will face a very difficult period. I have always considered unequivocal the disciplinary interventions by the competent bodies, but at the same time I believe that the proposed formula is excessive,” Chiellini added.

The punishment immediately ended Suarez’s involvement in the World Cup, with Uruguay due to face an in-form Colombia in a round of 16 tie on Saturday. “He is totally distraught. He never thought the punishment would be so severe,” said Alejandro Balbi, a member of the Uruguayan Football Association’s board and Suarez’s lawyer.

FIFA ruled that Suarez bit Chiellini during Uruguay’s final group match on Tuesday, as his side knocked Italy out of the tournament with a 1-0 victory. Suarez’s ban is the longest ever imposed at a World Cup. It means he is unlikely to appear in competitive matches for his country until 2016 and he will also miss the first two continued…

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