Suarez idolized, not blamed for Uruguay's exit

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 29, 2014 at 2:21 am •  Published: June 29, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Dejected but defiant, and still defending Luis Suarez.

Uruguay's support of the banned, biting striker was steadfast on Saturday even as the team was toothless in his absence and went out of the World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Colombia.

Among the Uruguay fans in the stands, in the team dressing room and in the dugout, Suarez's global pariah status is still mystifying. To them, the 27-year-old player is not a pariah but a footballing hero, even if the bite on an opponent will prevent him representing the national team in competitive games for more than a year.

"People have been after him for a long time," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said in the Maracana, echoing recent attacks on a perceived FIFA and English-language media campaign against Suarez.

World football's governing body acted swiftly after the bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday's Group D finale, banning Suarez for four months, disrupting his Liverpool career, as well as nine international matches.

"It is an outrage," veteran defender Diego Lugano said. "It is a violation of human rights which is far beyond winning or losing a football game."

While Suarez was more than 1,000 miles at home, his usual No. 9 jersey was hung in the dressing room as usual, tweeted out for the world to see by the team. Outside the Maracana, some fans pretended to bite each other, inside many watched the game wearing Suarez face masks and "Ole, ole, ole, Suarez" was sung throughout.

"We all know the things that happened, but we had to take only positive things out of that situation," Tabarez said. "In fact, it gave us a lot of strength for this game. We really wanted to win."

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