(AFP) – Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said on Friday that Luis Suarez had been made a “scapegoat” for biting an opponent at the World Cup, lashing out at the “excessive severity” of his four-month ban.
“Many times you forget that the scapegoat is a person, who has rights,” said Tabarez, who read out a pre-prepared statement during a press conference ahead of Uruguay’s last-16 game against Colombia on Saturday.
“In this specific case of Luis Suarez, despite the faults he may have committed, he has made significant contributions to football from the pitch.”
Tabarez also said the punishment was “of excessive severity” and claimed that it was “more focused on the opinions of the media”.
Suarez was handed a nine-game international ban and suspended from all football-related activity for four months by FIFA on Thursday after sinking his teeth into the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a Group D game in Natal on Tuesday.
Tabarez refused to take questions from the media and was given a round of applause by Uruguayan journalists after reading his statement.
Tabarez also announced that he has decided to step down from his position on FIFA’s technical study group and strategic committee over the affair.
It is the third time that Suarez has been banned for biting an opponent, after previous incidents with Ajax and his current club, Liverpool.