Uruguay accuse England of 'belittling" Luis Suarez
Uruguay have wasted no time in stoking up their World Cup showdown with England after hitting out at attempts in Britain to “belittle” Luis Suárez.
The South Americans claimed that there has been a “flood” of wrong information about the Liverpool striker, after being castigated in the past two years for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
Celso Otero Quintás, Uruguay’s assistant manager, felt that Suárez was beginning to win round the English public after scoring 13 goals in nine Premier League games since returning from his latest ban of 10 matches.
Those statistics undoubtedly make him the biggest threat to England’s hopes of qualifying from a World Cup group that also contains Italy and Costa Rica, with Uruguay and Roy Hodgson’s side squaring off in a pivotal second Group D match in Sao Paulo next summer.
“Luis has shown his exceptional talent since he has been playing in England,” Quintás said after the World Cup draw at Costa do Sauipe on Friday. “But what he has also shown is great strength and resistance against a flood of ‘information’ intended to put him down and belittle him. But he knew how to cope with it and kept progressing.
“He’s shown he’s a good man, and a good father to his family and demonstrated on the field what a great sportsman he is. I also think, little by little, he is winning round the English public, and they are at least showing him the respect he deserves.”
Quintás stopped short of directly criticising the Football Association, which has acted retrospectively to ban Suárez for a collective total of 19 matches for various offences since he joined Liverpool in 2011, although his words appeared to imply that he had been made a scapegoat by the governing body.
“It was an issue between the player and the English football establishment,” Quintás said. “The best thing in football is not to stoke these controversies. It’s not good to start making personal criticisms. Luis Suárez is a high-profile figure because of his achievements as a sportsman and Uruguayans want him to do well. But he’s a man with feeling and soul.”
Quintás also warned England that they would need to do more than stop Suárez and strike partner Edinson Cavani next summer to nullify the threat of Uruguay, the two-time world champions who finished fourth four years ago.
“There are others who also complement them in the attacking part of the team,” he said. “What we need to make sure is that we have all our best resources available, fit, in form from day one of the tournament. We need to make sure our tactics are the right ones to get us through to the second round.
“It’s a group with three former world champions in it, plus Costa Rica. It’s quite clear that it’s going to be a very demanding tournament for us right from the start.
“We’ve got to be right up for that challenge straight away if we are going to live up to the expectations of our people.”