Team-mates of Uruguay's Luis Suarez have condemned the eight-game ban handed out to the Liverpool striker for alleged racist remarks made to Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
The South American forward was found guilty in a misconduct charge on Tuesday, fined £40,000 and banned for eight matches, after the French full-back had filed a complaint against him due to comments the attacker is believed to have made during the 1-1 draw between the two clubs at Anfield on October 15.
Suarez, however, has long been defended by his conpatriots, who claimed that the use of the term 'negrito' is simply not a racist remark in Latin American culture.
Uruguay captain Diego Lugano led the condemnation of the ban handed out by the FA.
"I can't believe it," he said on his official website, "a great error is being committed here.
"It's obvious that in England there is a racism problem and they want to eradicate it, and that's fine, but there are no solid arguments here and that's an error; Luis is a victim."
The Paris Saint-Germain defender also hit out at Evra for reporting the incident.
"I don't know how a player like Evra could do this," he fumed.
"He is breaking all the codes in football.
"We all know what kind of person Luis is and the values he has. We are very hurt and, when a team-mate of ours is suffering, we suffer too."
And Abreu echoed his captain's comments as he told his own official webiste: "This makes no sense and is completley without foundation; everyone in the national team is behind Luis and we hope the ban can be overturned."
The veteran striker backed Suarez' character and claims that the whole of Uruguay is also behind the forward.
"Apart from being an excellent professional, Luis is a good person and this ban is completely unfair," he added.
"He has overcome many obstacles in his career and he should remain calm, because he has the support of three million Uruguayans."
For his part, Napoli's Walter Gargano called the situation a "fiasco" and claimed Evra just wanted to "be in the news".
"I don't why this kid came out and spoke - he must be jealous of Luis," the player told 1010 AM.
"It's happened to me with other players - you say things to each other but it stays at that.
"I don't think Luis will have done it because he is racist, but because of football - for me it's a tremendous fiasco."
Lazio's Alvaro Gonzalez also believes that Suarez's comments have been misconstrued.
"In Uruguay we use terms that can be misinterpreted and all of us who know Luis know that he wouldn't have made the comment as a defamatory remark," he said in quotes published by Ovacion.
"You can't call a Uruguayan racist because of that... perhaps we are paying the price for going to live in different cultures."
Meanwhile, midfielder Sebastian Eguren was also indignant as he told his website: "It's an injustice; Luis is a very respectful person and he has been a hostage in a cultural difference."