South American football officials will look into the actions of Chile defender Gonzalo Jara, who was caught on video poking Edinson Cavani’s behind to provoke a red card in the Copa America quarter-finals.
Alberto Lozada, a member of CONMEBOL’s disciplinary panel, said last night that the local governing body “will open an investigation” into Jara.
Cavani, Uruguay’s top striker in the tournament, was sent off after the 63rd-minute provocation by Jara, and Chile went on to score the only goal and reach the semi-finals for the first time in 16 years.
Cavani slapped Jara in the face immediately after the Chilean put his hand on him, but the referee punished only Cavani, giving him a second yellow card. While the slap appeared to be light, Jara dropped to the ground with his hand to his face.
Cavani’s first yellow was for complaining to the linesman in the 30th minute.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin said after the match that Cavani “reacted the way he did” only because of what Jara did.
The striker entered the match enduring a personal ordeal back in Uruguay, where his father was detained after allegedly driving drunk and being involved in an accident that killed a motorcyclist.
It wasn’t the first time Jara was seen provoking another player. In 2013, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was sent off from a World Cup qualifier for punching Jara in the face after a similar provocation from the Chilean in which he grabbed the testicles of the current Barcelona striker.
If Jara has a hearing and is suspended, it could be costly for the hosts, who are trying to win the Copa for the first time.
Uruguay, however, were left with a “bitter taste” in their mouths after a game in which they ended up with nine players.
Cavani and defender Jorge Fucile were both dismissed in the second half of a bad-tempered encounter.
After the dismissal of Fucile near the end of the game, the Uruguayan players lost their tempers, shoved the linesman and came close to blows with some of the Chilean players.
Coach Oscar Tabarez joined in the protest and the game was held up for several minutes until order was restored.
“When things end in red cards for incidents that weren’t even fouls it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,” Tabarez said. “I would have liked to lose in a different way.”
The coach apologised for leaving his technical area to remonstrate with Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci but said the official was wrong to send off Fucile for a tackle on Alexis Sanchez.
“I said to the referee, ‘Why have you sent off a player who didn’t commit a foul?’” Tabarez said. “Fucile, it was so clear!
“And with the sending-off of Cavani there is also photographic evidence that showed what happened and the provocation (from Jara).
“I submit to the TV images and photographs. That’s where the truth lies.”
Chile enjoyed 80 per cent of possession in a one-sided match but struggled to break down a characteristically stubborn Uruguayan defence until wing-back Mauricio Isla scored with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Tabarez said Cavani’s dismissal 20 minutes earlier was a turning point.
“When we were down to 10 men obviously it became more difficult because our opportunities for attack were reduced,” he said.
He denied Cavani’s dismissal had anything to do with the player’s state of mind after hearing on Tuesday that his father had been arrested in Uruguay for his role in a fatal car crash.
“I think today he (Cavani) was where he should have been,” Tabarez said. “His red card had nothing to do with what happened the day before.”