Doha, Dec 3: Football legend Luis Suarez was in tears on the Uruguayan bench as his team exited from the group stage in the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar despite securing a 2-0 win over Ghana in their last round-robin game.
Following his team's loss, in what was also the last World Cup appearance for him, Suarez alleged FIFA "is always against Uruguay". The former Barcelona, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid striker played in Friday's 2-0 win against Ghana, which came thanks to a double from Giorgian de Arrascaeta.
Veteran Suarez - who was substituted before the end - was a helpless observer when his teammate Edinson Cavani was denied a late penalty after going over in the Ghana 18-yard box.
Suarez felt that was a reasonable claim, and he also considered Uruguay should have had a spot-kick early in the second half after Darwin Nunez went down.
Despite referee Daniel Siebert assessing the Nunez incident on a pitchside monitor, the match official ruled it should not be a penalty.
Suarez had tears streaming as Uruguay's exit was confirmed, with South Korea pipping them to a last-16 spot after a 2-1 win over Portugal. Another Uruguay goal would have seen them pip the South Koreans to second spot.
Suarez pointed to group winners Portugal being awarded a disputed penalty against Uruguay in Monday's game between the teams, saying that "hurt" in terms of goal difference. Relating it to incidents in the Ghana game, Suarez added: "The penalty against Darwin is very clear. Edi's also has contact."
Calling on FIFA, the world governing body, to "give an explanation" about the rationale for penalty decisions, Suarez added: "They are not excuses, but incredible things are taking place in the World Cup."
He claimed to have been prevented from going across to his family following the final whistle against Ghana, too.
"After the game I want to go hug my family, and people from FIFA come to tell me no," Suarez said, "when you see a Frenchman with his children on the substitute bench.
"It seems that Uruguay has to have more power. FIFA is always against Uruguay."
Suarez, at the age of 35, is winding down his playing career but hoped for a flourish on the world stage. Instead, his tournament ended in a potshot at tournament chiefs.
He had to settle for a small consolation, but even winning in front of his little boy left a sorry taste.
"I was lucky to play my fourth World Cup. And what I thought about before the match was my four-year-old son, who hadn't seen me win a World Cup match," Suarez said.
"Today, he saw me win, but he sees this image of sadness and I think that's it. For a father, for a player it is very difficult, but we are going to face the situation and encourage our team-mates for what lies ahead."
Team-mate Federico Valverde underlined the dismay in the Uruguay ranks, with South Korea's late winner from Hwang Hee-chan against Portugal having snatched away second place.
"There is much sadness and disappointment," Valverde said. "This is a very good group, of players and the coaching staff. Everyone's family was always there to help us.
"People supported us and encouraged us in difficult times, and it's a great sadness. We are sad for not having given the country the joy it deserves."
(With OPTA inputs)