Uruguayans reacted angrily on Thursday after FIFA suspended their star striker Luis Suarez for nine matches for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, with many slamming the ban as exaggerated, hypocritical, or even biased.
"They're acting as if he were a criminal, a terrorist," said Maria Cardozo, a 48 year-old administrative worker. "They're exaggerating the aggression although I do think it warranted some sort of punishment."
Suarez is synonymous with controversy in much of the world. He has twice before been banned for biting and had to sit out eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra
But in small, football-crazed Uruguay, the Liverpool forward is a major hero that his compatriots have passionately defended him.
Some were quickly calling foul on Thursday and blasting global soccer body FIFA's judgment, which leaves Uruguay without its main scorer against Colombia on Saturday in the first knockout round.
"I don't want to get into conspiracy theories, but it seems that FIFA isn't interested in letting small countries such as Uruguay advance," said 62-year-old lawyer Andres Ramirez.
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How can people seriously defend this guy? They went easy on him; this sort of behavior warrants a two-year (and possibly lifetime) ban.