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Hundreds flock to Montevideo airport to give Luis Suarez a hero's welcome

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Uruguay's fans gather to express solidarity with player Luis Suarez while they await his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

Uruguay's fans gather to express solidarity with player Luis Suarez while they await his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

A Uruguay's fan shows a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

A Uruguay's fan shows a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

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Uruguay's fans gather to express solidarity with player Luis Suarez while they await his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

Hundreds of Uruguay fans flocked to Montevideo airfield on Thursday night to give the shamed striker a hero's welcome after he was banned from the World Cup for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Even the Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, arrived at the international airport at one point, but then returned home once it was revealed that Suarez's flight had been delayed.

After reports of the flight delay were confirmed to the masses, with rumours circulating that he is still in Brazil and has been booked into another hotel on the off-chance of the ban being overturned, fans was moved from the airport's terminal to an adjacent air force base to await Suarez's arrival.

They waved the national flag and carried banners criticising Fifa for the four-month suspension of Suarez. Uruguay will now be without their best player for their second-round match against Colombia on Saturday.

The Uruguayan FA plans to appeal the ban, which prohibits striker Luis Suarez from all football activities for four months. The ban also covers Uruguay's next nine international games, which rules him out of next year's Copa America. And it will likely carry over to qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

 It will also devastate Liverpool's plans for the new season, keeping him out for at least 12 club games - nine Premier League matches plus three Champions League games, and potentially a League Cup match too - before a return at the end of October.

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A Uruguay's fan shows a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

A Uruguay's fan shows a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

A Uruguay's fan shows a sign in solidarity with player Luis Suarez while waiting for his arrival outside Montevideo's Carrasco international airport

 

Uruguayans of all stripes were nearly unanimous in their support of Suarez after being told of his punishment, calling it excessive for what they felt was an act of immaturity.

"It feels like Uruguay has been thrown out of the World Cup," Uruguayan FA president Wilmar Valdez said in Rio.

Diego Suarez, the striker's youngest brother who is also a player, called the sanction an "unbelievable" decision.

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Juan Jose Monzillo, a Uruguay fan who lives in Montevideo, called it a conspiracy. "They clearly wanted to kick Suarez out of the World Cup. Uruguay is a small country that eliminated two big nations like Italy and England and it doesn't benefit Fifa to let Uruguay continue playing."

At the time of the bite, Suarez escaped unpunished as the referee did not see the incident. However, following world-wide condemnation for the act, Fifa has been quick to reveal judgement.

 "Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and in particular not at a Fifa World Cup, when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," Claudio Sulser, chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, said in a statement.

However, Uruguayans did not buy the explanation.

"The immorality and hypocrisy of Fifa has no limits. Neither does Chiellini's inclination for being a tattle-tale and a fink!" said Luis Puig, a lawmaker for Uruguay's ruling Broad Front coalition.

Suarez also received support from former Argentina star Diego Maradona, who argued that the World Cup has seen worse foul play than the bite and that those incidents have gone unpunished. "This is football, this is incidental contact," he said on Venezuela's Telesur network. "They have no common sense or a fan's sensibility. Luisito, we are with you."


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