3rd August, 2012
CARDIFF, United Kingdom: Uruguay striker Luis Suarez blasted fans who screamed abuse as his team slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Great Britain in the Olympics, claiming it was an indication that they feared him.
Liverpool star Suarez was furious that the Millennium Stadium crowd jeered the Uruguay anthem at the start of a game which eventually saw his side eliminated from the tournament at the first round stage.
“I think they jeer me and they boo me here because they must be scared of facing a player like me,” said Suarez.
“They fear me, but that doesn’t affect me. I’m hurt because we lost and we are going home. We all had a dream and that was to win the gold medal here.
“I can take the abuse. I don’t mind. But I think it was a total lack of respect from the crowd to boo when we were trying to sing our national anthem. I think those things should not happen.”
National team captain Suarez was a regular target throughout the tournament and was booed at Wembley, the Millennium Stadium as well as Old Trafford.
He has been targetted after his infamous clash with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in a Premier League match which resulted in an eight-match ban and a fine for the striker.
“I’m tired of this situation with Luis,” said team-mate Sebastian Coates, who plays with Suarez at Liverpool.
“I think it has gone too far and I don’t like to see him being treated like this.
“I know the kind of person he is and I think the abuse he gets is very unfair. He knows all his teammates and a whole country are fully behind him and I think fans over here should leave him alone.”
Hosts Great Britain won through Daniel Sturridge’s goal at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Stuart Pearce’s men will be back at the Millennium this Saturday to face South Korea in the last eight ahead of a possible semi-final against pre-tournament favourites Brazil at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
But had Gaston Ramirez’s injury-time effort, which struck the crossbar, been a touch lower, Uruguay would have had a draw.
Instead defeat saw Uruguay, whose captain Suarez was jeered throughout, eliminated after Chelsea striker Sturridge scored in first half stoppage time.
Neat approach play by Joe Allen saw the Swansea star weave his way through the Uruguay box before driving a low cross which Sturridge, whose Olympic hopes were in the balance after he was diagnosed with viral meningitis just a few weeks before the tournament, turned in from close range.
Victory saw Britain follow their women’s team into the knockout stages after both sides had entered the Olympics against a backdrop of fierce opposition from Celtic countries fearful of losing their football independence.
“We played some outstanding football,” said Stuart Pearce, coach of the first British men’s team to compete at an Olympics for more than 50 years.
“Overall, I’m delighted we beat a good Uruguay side 1-0,” the former England full-back added, Brazil saw Porto star Alex Sandro sent off as they overpowered New Zealand 3-0 at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.
By the time he was dismissed for a second bookable offence, Internacional striker Leandro Damiao had sent the South Americans on their way into the knockout stages.
The 23-year-old set up midfielder Danilo for the opener and then claimed his second goal of the tournament before the break, with Tottenham’s Sandro seal a victory which will see his side return to St James’ on Saturday.
Five-time world champions Brazil have yet to win Olympic gold and coach Mano Menezes was concerned Alex Sandro’s dismissal could harm their chances this time around.
“Losing Alex Sandro is a great worry. The first yellow card was undeserved.”
He added: “Gold is still a long way away. We will only think about gold if we get to the final.”
Now Brazil will play Honduras after the Central Americans held Japan to a goalless draw in Coventry to reach the last eight of an Olympic tournament for the first time.
“Everyone was talking about Spain and we have beaten them with all respect,” said Honduras’s Jose Mendoza.
“Now we have Brazil and we going to try our best. We all know that will be difficult but we have done Spain. Let’s see.”
Egypt also reached the last eight with a 3-1 win over Belarus at Glasgow’s Hampden Park and will face Japan at Old Trafford in the first of four quarter-finals all being played on Saturday.
Mexico topped Group B with a 1-0 win over Switzerland at the Millennium secured by Oribe Peralta’s second-half goal while South Korea advanced into the quarter-finals despite a goalless draw against Gabon.
Now Mexico will play Senegal after the African secured a 1-1 draw against the United Arab Emirates thanks to a Moussa Konate goal that cancelled out Ismaeil Matar’s opener at the City of Coventry Stadium.
Meanwhile Spain’s miserable tournament ended with a goalless draw against Morocco at Old Trafford.