Luis Suarez bite: Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez defends 'scapegoat' striker and says ban a consequence of pressure from 'English-speaking' journalists

He was applauded by the Uruguayan media as he departed the press conference

Rio de Janeiro

The Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez launched a rambling defence of Luis Suarez tonight, claiming the player was a “scapegoat” who had been treated with “excessive severity” by Fifa which had been encouraged to do so by the “English-speaking” media.

In a speech that tested the official Fifa translators to the limit, Tabarez argued against the severity of Suarez's ban for four months and nine competitive international games for biting Giorgio Chiellini. Tabarez did not deny that some punishment was due but said that that it was too harsh on the player - a consequence of pressure, he said, from “English-speaking” journalists.

At the end of his speech, at an official Fifa press conference, Tabarez, 67, refused to take questions and left. He was applauded by the Uruguayan press as he departed. Tabarez also appeared to have caught out the Fifa delegate present who had said at the beginning of the briefing that the assembled press would be permitted to ask questions.

In the course of his speech, Tabarez said that he had “taught” coaches for Fifa in the past and had worked with the governing body - whose disciplinary committee imposed the punishment. He announced at some length that he would be resigning from that position, on the Fifa technical study group.

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Having spoken for around ten minutes, he finished with a personal message to Suarez, whose ban starts with tomorrow's round of 16 game against Colombia at the Maracana. “To Luis Suarez, the person. The person who has always lived with us, someone we know better than anyone else.

“He will never be alone. To the fans, they, like us, are moved by the severity of this punishment: I want to let them know that we are hurt, but we desire more than ever to do well tomorrow and we will do our utmost.”

Earlier, Tabarez had implied that media pressure was partly to blame for the scope of the punishment meted out to Suarez. He claimed that questions in the post-match press conference on Tuesday had come from English-speaking journalists who he suggested were intent on seeing Suarez heavily punished.

 

Having seen the incident against Italy again after the match Tabarez admitted that the Uruguayans “were awaiting a punishment”. He added: “But we never imagined the severity of the punishment meted out. In a decision which, obviously, is much more focused on the opinions of the media - the media who immediately drew their conclusions at the game. There were journalists who concentrated solely on that topic at the post-match press conference. I don't know what their nationality was, but they all spoke English.

Suarez earlier lost a sponsorship deal with 888poker after receiving his four-month ban from Fifa Suarez earlier lost a sponsorship deal with 888poker after receiving his four-month ban from Fifa (Getty)

“With that media pressure, we were some way from the data shown by these video images at the match. When I speak of the media attack, the topic they concentrated on was the history of Luis because of things that happened in the past. He was sanctioned, he complied with these sanctions, in the past. Despite these harassments that continued. We all know where power lies. The power is in the hands of the organisers. But I will not discuss that.

“That doesn't mean we should accept it and agree with the discriminatory nature of that power. I have been a teacher in my life and I present the theory of the scapegoat: you know about the psychology of it all. When giving a punishment to someone who commits a transgression - not a crime - so that the whole group will know what is good, what is bad, what is wrong, what is correct, what ought to be done, and what shouldn't.

“We agree with the principle, but there is a danger proceeding this way. We forget the scapegoat is a person who has rights. In this specific case, of Luis Suarez, besides the mistakes he might have committed, he's made significant contributions to football on the pitch, the essence of World Cups. They depend upon the contributions by such great players.”

He claimed that Suarez had been measured “by a different meter”. “This is what we want to leave with you: our vision, taken from within this group, we know the protagonist of this incident. We know the mistakes he's made, but there's another side to this person. This is a message. The severity was excessive.”

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