FIFA defended the harsh punishment it handed down to Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for biting an opponent during the World Cup, despite complaints on Friday from his coach, politicians and even the man he bit that the record penalty was excessive.
The 27-year-old was expelled from this year’s tournament in Brazil and banned from international soccer for nine competitive games — the longest ever suspension handed out at a WC.
Further infuriating those who believe he has been unfairly treated by soccer’s governing body, Suarez cannot do anything connected with soccer for four months, meaning he misses the start of English club Liverpool’s 2014/15 campaign. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Suarez’s previous misdemeanours on the pitch had been taken into account. The player was banned twice before for biting during club games.
“If it’s the first time, it’s an incident. More than once, it is not any more an incident,” Valcke told reporters. “That is why also the sanction, it has to be exemplary.
“It was seen by hundreds of millions of people. It is not what you want your kids, what you want the little (ones) who are playing football around the world, to see at a World Cup,” he told journalists at FIFA’s daily tournament media briefing.
He also said Suarez should seek treatment to help him avoid such incidents in the future. “I don’t know if it exists, but he should do something by himself because it’s definitely wrong.” FIFA ruled that Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay’s final group match on Tuesday, as his side knocked the Europeans out of the tournament with a 1-0 victory.
While many in Europe believe Suarez should be severely punished for his third biting offence, Uruguayans are incensed at what they see as bias against their team within FIFA, and across Latin America the player enjoys widespread sympathy. When Suarez flew home on Friday, he was met by outraged President Jose Mujica at a military base next to Uruguay’s main airport. The player, his wife and other family members were then driven to a home he has in the small coastal town of Solymar.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez quit FIFA’s strategic committee on Friday in protest at the ban football’s governing body imposed on his team’s star striker Luis Suarez for biting an Italian player.
Tabarez said Suarez was being made a “scapegoat”. “Who wins, who loses? Who benefits, who is harmed? Who ended up getting things their way?” the coach said in Spanish.
Tabarez used the mandatory pre-match media event to make an often rambling 15-minute speech with no mention of the game on Saturday.
(With AP inputs)