Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez claims Suarez is a target of "certain sections of the press" after bite controversy
Published 24/06/2014 | 20:44
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez claimed that Luis Suarez "is the target of certain sections of the press" after the Liverpool striker provoked another moment of controversy by appearing to bite Giorgio Chiellini during his side's 1-0 win over Italy.
Tabarez insisted he had not seen a replay of the incident, which took place moments before Diego Godin's match-winning header in the 82nd minute which saw the South Americans qualify for the second round of the World Cup, but went unnoticed by match referee Marco Rodriguez Moreno.
Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio had been given a straight red card on the hour mark for a stamp on Eligio Alvarelo, and Chiellini was adamant that Suarez should have also been sent off for the bite.
However, Tabarez backed Suarez in his post-match press conference.
"I would like to see it (a replay of the bite) first," said the manager.
"If it happened then I think the referee had to have seen it first. I didn't see the incident and I don't want anyone to speak for me about it.
"Suarez, in addition to errors that he may have made, is a target for certain sections of the media."
Tabarez faced repeated questions about Suarez's bite, but refused to criticise his star man.
"If we believe people are attacking him, as has happened in this press conference, then we're going to defend him," he said.
"He's a vital player, a very important person to the group."
Suarez was banned for seven matches for biting an opponent while playing for Ajax, and last year was suspended for 10 Barclays Premier League games for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
FIFA has announced it will investigate the alleged incident with Liverpool's Uruguay striker likely to face a lengthy ban if found guilty.
FIFA's disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest ban in World Cup history was eight games for Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain's Luis Enrique's nose in 1994 with an elbow.
Following the result and Italy's elimination, manager Cesare Prandelli told a press conference that he is going to resign.
Suarez, meanwhile, avoided the controversy of his latest alleged biting incident as he hailed Uruguay's march into the World Cup knockout stages.
Television replays and photographs appeared to back up Chiellini's claims he had been bitten by Suarez.
The striker said in quotes carried by the Spanish newspaper El Pais: "I was relaxed because I knew we'd have chances. And then came the goal.
"Uruguay is celebrating, we have qualified and now we are going to celebrate this moment because next we have to start thinking about our next opponents.
"The truth is that the team worked incredibly hard and we deserve it.
"After making a bad start to the group against Costa Rica, the best we deserved was this and we showed that we deserve to stay in this World Cup.
"The heat was incredible and we were worn out."
For Chiellini, who made his upset known immediately, there was no doubting what had gone on.
Speaking to Gazzetta, he said: "The disparity in judgement has been evident. Marchisio's sending off was ridiculous but more so the fact that Suarez wasn't sent off. There's the will to protect champions but... The referee should have shown him a red card. There's a clear simulation after, a clear sign that he had done something that he wasn't supposed to.
"The gesture is clear. Referees document themselves on players and Suarez has a very clear history. The referee has given a clear address, he hasn't spoken throughout the game. These are episodes that condition. The only way they could have hurt us was from set pieces and so it was.
"There will be talk of failure but I would something to say about it. We are not happy with how things have gone but we were the only ones to deserve to progress to the next round."
The Suarez affair took the attention away from Prandelli's decision to go.
Prandelli announced at his post-match press conference: "I talked to the president of the federation.. and gave my resignation.
"The technical set-up didn't work, and I take all responsibility for that.
"Something has changed since my contract was renewed. I don't know why. I chose a certain technical plan and that's why I'm resigning - because it did not work."
Prandelli was not the only man to fall on his sword with president Giancarlo Abete also stepping down.
He said he would recommend that Prandelli changes his mind, but that he himself was going.
"I will go to the board and offer my irrevocable resignation too. I had already made this decision before the World Cup," he said.
Here is some of the reaction on twitter following the Suarez controversy: