The Italy defender feared the World Cup-record four-month ban and
nine-match international suspension handed out by FIFA would
alienate the controversial striker, who landed in Montevideo to be
met by the his country's President Jose Mujica.
As Suarez left Brazil, FIFA paved the way for former Germany World
Cup-winning coach and player Franz Beckenbauer to arrive by lifting
his 90-day football ban for failing to help an inquiry.
The 68-year-old German had rejected repeated requests to co-operate
with an investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to
Qatar but his manager said the "Der Kaiser" would now cooperate.
"As you know Franz is someone we all respect and was an amazing
footballer and we would love him to have him here at the World Cup,"
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told reporters in Rio de
Beckenbauer, however, has indicated he will not be attending the
soccer showpiece and will watch from afar like Suarez, who was
driven to the small coastal town of Solymar with his family to
escape the world's glare.
In the 27-year-old's absence and continued silence, opinions flowed
on the eye-catching verdict as his Uruguay team mates prepared for
Saturday's last-16 clash with in-form Colombia, which follows hosts
Brazil against Chile.
Chiellini, back in Italy after being knocked out by Uruguay
following Tuesday's 1-0 Group D loss, feared for the future of
Suarez, who has been found guilty of biting opponents on three
occasions in a controversial career.
"Now inside me there's no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against
Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that's done,"
the Juventus center back said in a statement.
"At the moment my only thought is for Luis and his family, because
they will face a very difficult period.
"I have always considered unequivocal the disciplinary interventions
by the competent bodies, but at the same time I believe that the
proposed formula is excessive."
OUTSPOKEN MARA DONA
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez accused FIFA of an indiscriminate use of
power and echoed Chiellini's use of the word excessive to describe
the punishment on his striker.
Tabarez, reading from a prepared statement and refusing to take
questions on the topic, said he would resign from his Strategy
Committee and Technical Study Group positions at FIFA. He left
Friday's news conference after 14 minutes to loud applause from
Outspoken Argentine World Cup-winning great Diego Maradona took a
similarly strong view of the ban, ridiculing its length which will
see Suarez miss the start of the English Premier League season and
Liverpool's early Champions League campaign.
"Who did Suarez kill?," Maradona said. "This is football, this is
contact... They may as well handcuff him and bring him to Guantanamo
(bay prison) directly."
Valcke said Suarez should seek help for his disciplinary problems
but stood by the severity of the punishment in the wake of mounting
defense for the Uruguayan, who was dumped by sponsor poker brand
[to top of second column]
The incident marred an enthralling group stage full of goals and
attacking play, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter expressing his
satisfaction at the opening salvo.
"I'm impressed," said the Swiss, who has been booed at matches in
Brazil by fans.
"What has changed from previous World Cups is that in the first
matches of the group phase everybody played to win. The 16 remaining
teams will give us a great spectacle."
Saturday will see the 16 reduced to 14, with Suarez's team mates
taking on Colombia in Rio de Janiero.
For all his histrionics, the striker's talents are undeniable and
his absence makes Colombia strong favorites to progress to a first
The Colombians easily topped Group C with three wins inspired by the
form of James Rodriguez, but they have vowed not to under-estimate
their embattled opponents.
The winners will face the victors of Saturday's first match between
hosts Brazil and an eye-catching Chilean side, who dumped out
defending champions Spain in the group stage.
The Chileans have a mental block to overcome against the hosts, who
have knocked them out at this stage on their last two World Cup
Brazil's own mental strength is being tested, however, with the
weight of a nation's demand for a sixth World Cup title and first on
home turf weighing heavily.
"It is normal for us to feel that we have some problem, something
that makes us anxious especially now in the knockout stage where we
cannot lose," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said before the game
in Belo Horizonte.
"We become more afraid, more nervous, it is normal."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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