RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — As Luis Suarez prepared to leave the World Cup in disgrace, Americans and Algerians were celebrating their places in the knockout rounds on a dramatic final day of the group stage on Thursday.
While some form of suspension for Suarez was guaranteed after the Uruguay striker bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder, few would have predicted one of the longest bans in the tournament's history — nine international matches and four months from all football.
It was his third ban for biting after previous incidents in England and the Netherlands, and given the comments made by FIFA, it's hard to see the Uruguayan football federation making much headway with its appeal.
"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup, when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, said in a statement.
Several hundred Uruguayans, including President Jose Mujica, gathered at Montevideo's airport to wait for Suarez's return.
While he may no longer be in Brazil, his peers in Neymar of Brazil and Argentina's Lionel Messi are still very much in the tournament — as are the United States and Algeria, which has finally reached the last 16 for the first time in its history.
The U.S. lost 1-0 to Germany on Thursday in its last match in Group G, but it still managed to qualify and line up a second-round game against Belgium on Tuesday in Salvador.
Ghana, which had a more realistic chance of beating the U.S. to second place behind the already-qualified German, missed its chance in a 2-1 defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. Ronaldo scored the winner in a pyrrhic victory for what the world player of the year has accurately described as "probably just an average team."
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