Luis Suarez has apologised for punching the Uruguay bench during Thursday’s 1-0 Copa America defeat to Venezuela and is “grateful” to Coach Oscar Tabarez.
Suarez was seen warming up and then losing his temper towards the end of Uruguay’s campaign-ending loss to Venezuela, despite not being in the matchday squad, but the Barcelona forward thanked Tabarez for not taking a chance on his fitness as “I wasn’t even 90 percent fit to play”.
“I want to clarify many things that have been said, which aren’t true,” he was quoted as saying by Marca.
“I wasn’t even 90 percent fit to play. I knew I couldn’t, even though I made myself available. It’s not true that I was dismissed.
“I’m grateful to [Tabarez] because it would have been worse if I entered the field. I’d be grieving in a corner somewhere.
“This muscle injury is very deceptive. You seem fine one minute and then [the muscle] pulls the next.
“[Punching the bench] comes from being powerless to do anything, not being able to help my country and wanting to play. It wasn’t because I went against the Coach.
“If he put me in the team then I’d go out [to play] because I’d do anything for Uruguay, but I was injured. I wanted to play, but the problem was mine and not that of the Coach, who I will always be grateful to.
“And I didn’t punch the bench. Out of the 38 shots, only one went in. It was frustrating.
“The idea is to start the season well, but if we still had chance of progressing in our third match against Jamaica, I’d have taken the risk.
“Now we’re just playing for pride. I haven’t been ruled out, but I don’t see myself playing. I’ll wait so I can heal fully.
“It’s nonsense to say that Barca prevented me from playing. The club were the first to know about the seriousness of my injury and I appreciate their confidence in letting me come here and decide for myself, together with the Uruguay physios, although they knew I wouldn’t chance it.
“[On his brother Paolo slamming Tabarez in a tweet], Paolo is my brother but I have a minimal relationship with him. I talk once every few months with him.
“What he expressed is not what my family or people close to me think. Paolo must understand who is and was the first person to apologise to Tabarez for his remarks.
“I’m no better than anyone with one leg [as Paolo wrote]. You can’t be disrespectful like that to your teammates.
“[On which team he wants to win the Copa], it’s where most of my friends are [referring to Argentina]. I hope [Lionel] Messi wins the Copa.”