What's buzzing:

Uruguay defends Suarez as FIFA scrambles

AP - Sports
Uruguay defends Suarez as FIFA scrambles

View gallery

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- As the world was judging Uruguay's Luis Suarez for biting a player in the World Cup, his teammates, coaches and fans in his soccer-crazy country defended the star, blaming the foreign media, his Italian opponents and uneven treatment.

World Cup organizers scrambled Wednesday to quickly decide on a punishment before Uruguay plays Colombia Saturday in the round of 16.

''We have to resolve it either today or tomorrow,'' FIFA disciplinary panel member Martin Hong told reporters Wednesday. ''It's our duty to see justice done.''

The disciplinary committee meeting was already underway on Wednesday evening, FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said.

Wilmar Valdez, Uruguay football federation president, told the Associated Press shortly after midnight local time that the disciplinary hearing will continue Thursday morning.

''What we know is they (the disciplinary panel) met for a long time,'' he said. ''We don't know if that's a good or a bad situation.''

A day after he tangled with defender Giorgio Chiellini, Suarez was coping well, according to Valdez.

''Luis is fine. He's been through 1001 battles,'' he told the online site Tenfield.com on Wednesday. ''We all know who Luis is and that's why we have to defend him.''

The bite - just before Uruguay scored the clinching goal to eliminate the four-time champion Italians -will now test FIFA president Sepp Blatter's often-stated commitment to ''fair play, discipline, respect.''

Blatter, who was in the crowd for the Uruguay-Italy match at Natal, has pledged a zero tolerance for the darker side of the game.

Many are questioning where that leaves a player like Suarez, who has a history of disciplinary problems including separate bans of seven and 10 matches for biting opponents in the Netherlands and England.

Valdez said Uruguay officials were sent a video of the incident by FIFA, and would respond with footage showing Suarez - a striker for Liverpool and last season's player of the year in England's Premier League - as a victim of Italian aggression.

''When he falls, several substitutes insult him on the ground and some members of Italy's staff even came out of the bench to try to hit him,'' Valdez said, suggesting FIFA could investigate Italy.

Uruguay also will cite Brazil star Neymar getting only a yellow card in a clash with a Croatia player, Valdez said.

Uruguay federation board member Alejandro Balbi, who is Suarez's lawyer, blamed European media reporting.

''This happened because there have been campaigns launched by the media in England and Italy,'' Balbi told Uruguayan radio Sport 890.

Suarez's teammate Diego Lugano agreed.

''The British media has a vendetta against Suarez, and everyone knows that,'' he said. ''It's obvious the vendetta sells newspapers in England, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Uruguay and Italy played yesterday. On Saturday Uruguay plays Colombia, I don't know why there's a British journalist asking about Suarez.''

Lugano said he had seen ''much more violent plays'' than the bite at the World Cup.

''It was a normal taunt in football, and the world press ends up talking about something totally trivial,'' he said.

FIFA's case against Suarez - announced early Wednesday - will be managed by a Swiss lawyer, Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee. A former international forward himself, Sulser has worked for four years at FIFA, first as head of its ethics court.

Sulser can choose to judge the offense within the scale of typical red-card incidents: A three-match ban may then be appropriate, banishing Suarez at least until the World Cup final should Uruguay advance that far.

The maximum penalty would be a ban of 24 international matches.

FIFA can also choose to ban Suarez for up to two years. That would cover club and international games and would ruin a widely speculated transfer to Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Suarez and the Uruguay football federation had until 5 p.m. local time Wednesday (4 p.m. EDT/2000 GMT) to present a documented defense.

Completing the case ahead of Saturday's match could be complicated if Suarez appeals. That challenge could go direct to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland for an urgent and binding ruling.

However, one option open to FIFA and Sulser to avoid that scenario is that a suspension of ''fewer than three matches or of up to two months'' cannot be appealed, according to FIFA rules.

Already, one of Suarez's sponsors said it was ''reviewing our relationship with him.''

''We will not tolerate unsporting behavior,'' 888poker said in a Twitter message.

Last month, the firm announced a global endorsement contract with Suarez, a poker enthusiast.

adidas, which also has Suarez as a client and is FIFA's longest standing World Cup sponsor, said it was monitoring the case.

Meanwhile, Suarez was criticized by a Uruguay football great Alcides Ghiggia, the last survivor of the team which defeated Brazil to win the 1950 World Cup.

Suarez ''plays well but he has done things that are not normal for a player nor for a soccer game,'' Ghiggia told The AP. ''I think FIFA can sanction him.''


AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in Rio de Janeiro and Associated Press writer Leonardo Haberkorn in Montevideo, Uruguay, contributed to this report

View Comments (262)
  • Portland sends off Angerer and Van Hollebeke with sellout

    Portland sends off Angerer and Van Hollebeke with sellout

    The Portland Thorns played Sunday night before their second sellout crowd of more than 21,000, though it was bittersweet. Already eliminated from the playoffs, the Thorns honored a pair of popular players who are retiring from the game: goalkeeper … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 3 minutes ago
  • Panathinaikos rebound from European shock with big win

    By Graham Wood ATHENS (Reuters) - Panathinaikos put their shock Europa League exit behind them with an impressive 4-0 home hammering of AEL Kalloni on Sunday to maintain their 100 percent start to the Super League season. The result means the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 49 minutes ago
  • PSG's Cavani on target, Di Maria impressive in Monaco win

    PSG's Cavani on target, Di Maria impressive in Monaco win

    It took him some time but when Paris St Germain's Edinson Cavani found his range he netted a second-half double to help snatch a 3-0 win at Monaco that extended the champions' perfect Ligue 1 start on Sunday. Uruguay striker Cavani was his usual … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 50 minutes ago
  • 'Unbelievable' Swansea becoming Premier League force, says Monk

    'Unbelievable' Swansea becoming Premier League force, says Monk

    By Tom Hayward LONDON (Reuters) - Swansea City are becoming a force in the Premier League after maintaining their unbeaten start with am impressive come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Manchester United, manager Garry Monk said. Sunday's win was … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 53 minutes ago
  • Roma hand Juve second successive league defeat

    Roma hand Juve second successive league defeat

    After losing only three league games last season Juventus have now lost the first two of the new campaign as a deserved 2-1 defeat at AS Roma on Sunday condemned the champions to their worst-ever Serie A start. Not since Bologna in 1941 have the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 56 minutes ago