Uruguay preparing case for Suarez defence

Suarez ’s lawyer claims ‘there’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy’

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini claims he was bitten by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez yesterday. Photograph: EPA

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini claims he was bitten by Uruguay’s Luis Suarez yesterday. Photograph: EPA

 

Luis Suarez’s lawyer flew to Rio de Janeiro this morning to present his defence after the Uruguay striker appeared to bite a player during his team’s 1-0 victory over Italy, leaving him facing a lengthy ban if found guilty by soccer’s governing body.

The incident in Natal has brought the ugly side of the game to the fore, marring a tournament that has been widely praised for its attacking football and major upsets.

Suarez, who has been banned from soccer twice previously for biting, has until 5pm local time (9pm Irish times) to present his case to Fifa.

“We’re polishing off a defence argument,” his lawyer Alejandro Balbi told local radio in Uruguay, where many people support the gifted frontman and feel he is being unfairly singled out by media in Europe.

“We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated,” added Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member. “There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy.”

The referee did not spot the incident during the match, but Fifa’s rules allow the use of video or “any other evidence” to punish players retrospectively.

Fifa’s disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest suspension Fifa has imposed for an offence at a World Cup was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994.

Uruguay could potentially play four more games in the tournament, and it would be a surprise if Suarez were to be given a ban of a shorter duration if found guilty.

Fifa said it would work as quickly as possible in its investigation into the incident, with Uruguay due to play Colombia on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro in the first knockout round.

“The Disciplinary Committee understands the urgency of the matter,” spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters.

“It is working to get and assess all elements in order to make a decision as early as possible, particularly given the fact that Uruguay are still in the tournament.

“We will get an update to you later today or tomorrow or whenever they take their decision,” she said.

Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo said the incident was “regrettable” for its potential impact on the World Cup.

“I think it’s very bad that it happened,” he told reporters. “He (Suarez) is an exceptional player, helps to give the World Cup more attention. That was not the first bite. Other ones have happened.”

Suarez has denied biting Chiellini.

“Those are situations that happen on the pitch. We were both just there inside the area. He shoved me with his shoulder, and my eye got left like that also,” he said after the match, in reference to Chiellini’s marks.

Balbi, who is travelling to Rio de Janeiro with Uruguay FA boss Wilmar Valdez to present their case to Fifa, echoed those remarks.

“There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we’re convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suarez can show a bruised and almost shut eye,” Balbi said.

“We’re going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way.”

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