The president of Uruguay has defended Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, insisting his compatriot "is not a racist and never will be".
Jose Mujica felt the situation surrounding the 25-year-old and his eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra had been over-hyped.
Speaking to Uruguayan radio station M24 the president said: "There is solidarity with Suarez. Suarez is not a racist and never will be."
In a separate interview, with weekly newspaper Busqueda, he added that the case had been "exaggerated".
"There is nothing racist," said Mujica, adding that "some do not understand" Suarez and did not study "diplomatic protocol".
Mujica added: "He's a young genius on the football field, (and) humble."
The president's support came hours after Uruguay captain Diego Lugano gave his backing to his international team-mate in the wake of more criticism for not shaking Evra's hand in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
"Keep in mind that England is a country historically colonial and racism is very delicate, but we know that has nothing to do with the relationship between Luis and the United player," he told Uruguayan television station Canal 10.
Lugano added that Suarez "has gone through a few months he did not deserve".
"All of us in football know it's a big circus. For what did Luis on Saturday must have balls. He followed his convictions," said the defender who plays for Paris Saint Germain - the side today linked with a summer move for Suarez.
"We live in a democracy and if you do not want to greet someone, do not greet them."