By Malena Castaldi
MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) – Luis Suarez’s lawyer believes there is a European campaign against the controversial striker, who on Wednesday was preparing his defense after being accused of biting an Italy defender during Uruguay’s 1-0 win at the World Cup.
“We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated,” said Uruguay FA board member Alejandro Balbi, who is also Suarez’s lawyer.
“There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy,” Balbi told local Uruguayan radio. “We’re polishing off a defense argument.”
Soccer’s world governing body is investigating the incident during Tuesday’s Group D match in Natal which has made headlines around the world. Uruguay’s win took them through to the last 16 where they will face Colombia on Saturday.
The triumph was marred by Suarez, twice previously banned for biting, who sank his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder, sparking outrage and calls for a tournament-long ban.
But Uruguay FA boss Wilmar Valdez told local media the proof against Suarez is not “convincing.”
“We’ve prepared another video of the game in which we discovered there was other behavior similar to Suarez’ in the game, which did not generate a similar reaction from the press,” Valdez told El Observador.
Uruguayan media have accused other countries of launching a ‘manhunt’ against Suarez, and have singled out the British press as being particularly aggressive. [ID:nL6N0P64DE]
Balbi and Valdez have until 5pm local time (2000 GMT) to present their case to FIFA in the hope of avoiding a ban on Suarez. [ID:nL6N0P64F2]
“There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we’re convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suarez can show a bruised and almost shut eye,” Balbi said.
“If every player starts showing the injuries he suffers, and they open inquiries for them, everything will be way too complicated in the future. We’re going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way.”
His argument echoes the sentiment in much of Uruguay, which is jubilant at the team’s last-gasp victory and largely backs their key player. [ID:nL2N0P51JQ]
The Liverpool forward’s lethal finishing is far more important than his straying teeth, say many in the small, sleepy agricultural country vying for a third World Cup triumph.
Balbi hinted at a broader conspiracy to sideline Uruguay, who lost to unfancied Costa Rica in their opening match without Suarez as he battled to complete his recovery from knee surgery. [ID:nL5N0OV12V]
“You shouldn’t forget that we’re rivals of many and we can be for the organizer (hosts Brazil) in the future. This does not go against what might have happened, but there’s no doubt that Suarez is a rock in the shoe for many,” Balbi added.
(Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Ken Ferris)