Suarez row did not distract Uruguay, insists Tabarez

In the absence of their star striker Uruguay crashed out of the World Cup to a James Rodriguez-inspired Colombia, but their coach insists the row did not drain them

By Liam Twomey at Estadio Maracana

Oscar Tabarez insists his Uruguay players were not affected by the Luis Suarez biting controversy after they crashed out of the World Cup to Colombia.

The Uruguay FA are in the process of appealing the four-month global ban and nine-game international suspension handed down to Suarez by Fifa for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The Liverpool star’s absence overshadowed preparations for Saturday’s round of 16 clash at the Maracana but in the event it was James Rodriguez, Colombia’s talisman, who stole the show with two goals.

Uruguay lacked attacking drive and inspiration throughout the match, but while Tabarez admitted his team missed their star striker, he remained adamant that the controversy had not left them drained of energy.

“When we discussed things before the match we all knew what happened, but we had to stop thinking about it and only bring out the positive things,” he told reporters.

“That generated a lot of strength to come out of this match with a good result. Suarez is a very important player but we knew he was not going to play or be close to us because it was so decided by the punishment imposed on him.

“I don’t know what energy we could have lost. We simply accepted that he was suspended, and we criticised the excessive harshness of the sanction – very subjective, it’s true, but it’s the feeling of an entire people.

“Football needs players of the quality of Luis Suarez. We know him as a human being and we tried to defend him. When he no longer was able to be with us, that was the end of that. We had the energy and we showed that.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore in front of people who have been after him for a long time.”

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