CARACAS: Venezuela’s president has weighed into global controversy over Uruguay striker Luis Suarez’s World Cup expulsion, saying he had been unfairly punished for helping eliminate Italy and England.
“They can’t forgive Uruguay that a son of the people has eliminated two of football’s big nations, so they invented a whole case,” Nicolas Maduro said late on Friday.
Suarez scored two goals against England in a 2-1 victory, and helped his team to a 1-0 win over Italy in the group stages, meaning Uruguay and Costa Rica made it to the next round while the humiliated Europeans went home.
“It’s very painful this disproportionate punishment that FIFA has taken against Luis Suarez, a great striker who belongs to all of us in South America,” said Maduro, the populist successor to late Venezuelan socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez.
“Noone denies some corrective measures were needed, but to suspend him for four months from football where he shines? To take him out of the World Cup? Latin America views this with outrage and we reject it totally.”
Suarez’s actions did provoke widespread international shock, but there is also a growing chorus of criticism of the punishment as excessive, including from Chiellini himself.