MONTEVIDEO, (Reuters) – Uruguay are submitting video evidence of incidents missed by referees that were not followed up by FIFA in response to the governing body’s probe into Luis Suarez allegedly punching Chile defender Gonzalo Jara.
FIFA opened an investigation last week after Argentine referee Nestor Pitana missed the incident last month when forward Suarez and Jara tussled at a corner during Chile’s 2-0 win in Santiago in a South American World Cup qualifier.
“Why now with Suarez? This is the first time FIFA is acting after the event in (the South American) qualifiers,” Uruguayan FA (AUF) president Sebastian Bauza told Reuters.
Bauza, who last week claimed Suarez was persecuted especially in England where he plays for Liverpool, said Spanish lawyers appointed by the AUF would present evidence of similar off-the-ball incidents to world soccer’s governing body FIFA on Wednesday.
He said he did not have the specific information on the other incidents but the key issue was why FIFA should have acted in this particular case in which Suarez reacted to provocation.
“We think the fair play policies are good but we want to make clear that this was a reaction by Suarez to Jara’s provocation when he was grabbed by the genitals,” Bauza said.
“There were other incidents involving Jara against Suarez. Football is a contact sport and there’s a lot that referees miss,” Bauza added.
“There is footage of a lunge by Jara at (Argentina’s) Gonzalo Higuain, who then didn’t play for Real Madrid for two months, and no disciplinary action was taken.”
Bauza also referred to a “punch” he claimed Argentina’s Lionel Messi threw at a Bolivian player without consequences but could not confirm if that was when the teams last met in a qualifier on March 26, the same day as the Suarez-Jara incident.
Suarez, who is suspended for Uruguay’s next qualifier away to Venezuela on June 11 after a booking in the Chile match, could face a longer ban if FIFA rules against him.
Uruguay, World Cup semi-finalists in South Africa in 2010 and Copa America winners a year later, have taken only two points from their last six qualifying matches and are in danger of failing to reach the 2014 finals in Brazil.
Suarez, who is no stranger to controversy, was sent off for saving the ball with his hands during Uruguay’s 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Ghana. The African side failed to score from the resulting penalty and lost the match in a shootout.
The Premier League’s top scorer with 22 goals this term has also found himself in trouble playing for Liverpool in the past, notably being banned for eight matches last season for racially insulting Manchester United’s France defender Patrice Evra.
He admitted to diving against Stoke City last October, but claimed he was picked on by the British media, and got away with handball as he scored the winner in an FA Cup tie in January.