Uruguayan nation united in grief for Luis Suarez
Hundreds of flag-waving supporters many with placards condemning ‘Fifa Corrupta’turned up at Montevideo’s international airport
A Uruguayan fan holds a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo’s Carrasco international airport . Photograph: Carlos Pazos/Reuters
‘A Country Suffers With Suárez’ mourns El País which announced that its edition tomorrow will include a souvenir poster of the player inscribed ‘Celeste Oath – We Are All Suárez!’
The Liverpool striker is now a national cause in the small but fiercely proud nation on the east bank of the River Plate.
Hundreds of flag-waving supporters many with placards condemning ‘Fifa Corrupta’turned up at Montevideo’s international airport on last night to show their support for the player, among them the country’s president José Mujica.
Angered and what many believe is a witch-hunt orchestrated by Fleet Street they jumped up and down to the traditional terrace chant of ‘He who doesn’t jump is an Englishman’.
But Suárez’s private jet was delayed leaving Natal and when he finally arrived at 5.0am there were only journalists waiting as a white van whisked him and his family home.
He has not just received backing in Uruguay with certain sectors in South America convinced this is a Fifa plot to do down one of the region’s stars. On his World Cup television programme Maradona was indignant at the long suspension. “Who did he kill? This is football.
It is an unjust sanction, something like the mafia. Unbelievable,” he raged. In Venezuela Diosdado Cabello, the chavista leader of the country’s national assembly, also lashed out at football’s authorities.
“The Fifa of Mr Blatter and all the others bite more than anyone else, they chew on the whole world and no-one suspends them. But Luis Suárez yes,” he said.
Now shorn of their star player ahead of their first knockout game tomorrow against Colombia paranoia is still raging within the Uruguayan squad.
Captain Diego Lugano, who has led the players’ defence of Suárez, took to Twitter to express his solidarity with him writing: “Those in charge are in charge and the strong are the strong… they don’t judge us by the same law.”
The weight of the loss Suárez’s suspension means for Uruguay was made clear by the news that coach Óscar Tabárez was deciding between the ageing Diego Forlan and journeyman pro Christian Stuani to replace him.
Little wonder El Observador reported that the team arrived in Rio de Janeiro “with faces that showed something had broken. With their acts and looks you could feel the loss of Suárez has profoundly affected his companions.”
Their Colombian opponents have been at pains to stay out of the controversy. “We are not getting involved. We have nothing to do with any decision. We are only thinking in the game.
“We do not want anything to distract us,” said the team’s captain Mario Yepes. “It has nothing to do with us.”