Many Uruguayans are showing their support for Luis Suarez following FIFA’s decision to suspend him for the rest of the World Cup, and are accusing FIFA of plotting against the South American nation.
Suarez was suspended for nine matches on Thursday after FIFA officials reviewed footage of his now infamous biting of Italian defender Giorgio Chellini. Even though the evidence of the attack was captured on camera, politicians, journalists and thousands of Twitter users in the tiny nation of three million are closing ranks behind the star striker.
A headline from Uruguayan paper La Republica says Suarez was “crucified” by FIFA:
“The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be remembered as the one in which FIFA bureaucratically deprived Uruguay of its most powerful weapon,” the caption above the picture reads.
Uruguayan new site Subrayado focused on the pain that FIFA has inflicted on that country’s fans. It said the suspension was “very harsh.”
Horacio Yanes, a congressman for Uruguay’s ruling party, the Frente Amplio, said on Twitter that Suarez had been “lynched,” for helping his nation eliminate some of Europe’s top teams from the tournament.
“England and Italy could not forgive what happened to them in the field,” Yanes wrote.
Jose Carlos Mahia, a congressman for the same political party, accused FIFA of acting against Suarez so that it would be easier for Brazil to defeat them if both teams have to meet in the World Cup quarterfinals. This could happen if Brazil beats Chile in the second round, and Uruguay defeats Colombia.
“Uruguay with Suarez was not good business [for FIFA and Brazil]” Mahia wrote.
Uruguay fans have also begun to campaign for Suarez on Twitter, asking people to replace their profile pictures with a picture of the suspended striker.
“Let the world know that when they mess with one Uruguayan, they mess with all of us,” one popular meme said.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has justified Suarez’s conduct by explaining that the striker was born in poverty and has been raised “far from academic institutions and places where one learns diplomatic conduct.”
On Wednesday, before FIFA suspended Suarez, Mujica backed the striker. “He is an excellent player. We didn’t pick him to be a philosopher, a mechanic or to have good manners,” Mujica told Uruguayan website Subrayado.
“If we are going to make soccer decisions based on what is seen on TV, what would we do with all those handballs and penalties that aren’t sanctioned during matches,” the president added.
Here are some more reactions to Suarez’s suspension, which were gathered under the hashtag #todossomossuarez (We are all Suarez.)
“I think the problem with Suarez is not what he did. The problem that FIFA has with him is that he’s Uruguayan”
“You are a joke FIFA. Now everyone better be trembling because Uruguay will win the World Cup.”
“I am speechless. He’s been condemned for being too good, and for being Uruguayan.”