"Luis is a victim" after FA charge Suarez with racism - Uruguay captain Diego Lugano
Diego Lugano and great part of the Uruguayan national team expressed their undivided support for the Liverpool sharp-shooter.
Several of Luis Suarez's Uruguay team-mates got together to support the Liverpool striker after he received both a heavy sanction and a hefty fine for being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October.
"I can't believe it. They are making a big mistake. It's obvious that in England they have a racism problem which they are trying to address, and it's okay, but here they don't have solid evidence. Luis is a victim. I can't believe that a player like Evra can do this. He is breaking all the ethics of soccer," declared Uruguay captain Diego Lugano.
"All of us know what type of person Luis is, and the values that he has. We are all very hurt. When a team-mate of ours is suffering, we are all suffering. Now all we can do is support him and be on his side," he added.
Suarez, who will have to complete an eight-match ban, has experienced a memorable year on the soccer field, as not only has he been in outstanding form for Liverpool but he was named tournament MVP as Uruguay lifted the Copa America for a record fifteenth time in July. It's no surprise that Uruguay's return to the elite of world soccer has coincided with his arrival.
According to Sebastian Abreu, a key figure and regular spokesperson for the Uruguayan national team, the punishment is difficult to understand as it makes no sense whatsoever.
"The sanction is difficult to understand. It doesn't make any sense and it lacks fundamentals. The entire national team are on Luis' side right until the death and we are confident that the sanction can be overturned," stated the Botafogo striker.
"Racism is obviously something that surrounds all of us, there are times that lots of things are said on the field, confrontations are generated, the exchange of words, but they should stay there. They can never make an accusation of that caliber. What I believe is most unfair is that the sanction falls on Luis when he, at all moments, denies saying anything. It's the word of one against the word of another and without any evidence they punished Luis."
As well as receiving public support from both his team-mates in the Uruguayan national team and from his club side Liverpool, Suarez received full support from the Uruguayan government, who consider the issue as having been blown "way out of proportion."
Unlike England, Uruguay is a country free of racism, where both white and black people live in harmony. While white people make up great part of Uruguay's population, black people are ever present no matter whether that may be in culture, politics, education or sport.
Uruguay have had several black soccer heroes over the years, including former Nacional striker Richard Morales, whose two goals against Australia in the World Cup qualifying playoff sent Uruguay to Korea/Japan 2002. Other black players who have found wide success with the national team include FC Porto midfielder Alvaro Pereira and former Juventus goal-poacher Marcelo Zalayeta.
Often these players would have been called or referred to as 'negrito' by team-mates, friends, partners and commentators at no offense whatsoever. As Suarez tried to explain to the English FA, the term is acceptable and not at all considered racist in Uruguay.
In fact often fair skinned people are referred to as 'negro' or 'negrito' in the tiny South American nation, without triggering any kind of offense, as on the contrary it is considered a warm or friendly way to call or greet a loved one. Suarez will appeal against the ban.