Suarez, Cavani make undignified exits from World Cup stage

Suarez, Cavani make undignified exits from World Cup stage

© AFP 2022
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:19 PM
Luis Suarez (right) passes on the captain's armband to substitute Edinson Cavani at the World Cup
Luis Suarez (right) passes on the captain's armband to substitute Edinson Cavani at the World Cup. Photo: Pablo PORCIUNCULA / AFP
Source: AFP

The sight of a tearful Luis Suarez hiding his face in his shirt and an enraged Edinson Cavani knocking over a VAR monitor encapsulated Uruguay's sadness and frustration at their World Cup exit.

For the two striking greats, both 35, it was a deeply underwhelming and undignified way to leave the biggest stage for the final time.

Uruguay beat Ghana 2-0 on Friday but crashed out of the Qatar tournament on goals scored because of South Korea's last-gasp 2-1 win over Portugal.

But the South American side did not go quietly or with dignity.

Their players surrounded and harangued German referee Daniel Siebert after the final whistle, with the official dishing out two yellow cards, including to Cavani.

There had been similar scenes during an incident-packed match in which Siebert awarded a penalty to Ghana but waved away two Uruguayan appeals.

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Having hit the woodwork three times in their two previous games and conceded another controversial penalty in their 2-0 defeat to Portugal, Uruguay leave Doha with a lot of regrets and a feeling of what might have been.

Suarez and his teammates believe they were the victims of injustice, penalised by refereeing decisions that went against them, even after VAR reviews.

"Leaving a World Cup hurts but we have the tranquility that we GAVE EVERYTHING for our country," Suarez wote on Twitter.

"PROUD to be URUGUAYAN even though THEY DON'T RESPECT US" he added in a barb presumably directed at world football's governing body FIFA.


The sense of injustice was a common theme in the emotionally charged aftermath of Friday's match -- a member of the Uruguayan delegation berated a journalist in the post-match press conference about the penalty given against the South American side in the Portugal game.

In truth, Uruguay's demise was not a surprise since Suarez and Cavani have had better days.

They occupy the top two spots on Uruguay's all-time record scorers' list, with Suarez as number one, and were part of the teams that reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2010 before winning the Copa America the following year.

Injuries have limited Cavani's game time in recent years and while he has made an impressive start with his new club Valencia -- four goals in seven games -- it is more than four years since he played 30 or more league games in a single season.

He was a peripheral figure at the World Cup, starting only one game, in which he was substituted off, and hardly having a shot at goal.

Suarez, for his part, spent the first part of this season back in his homeland with boyhood club Nacional ahead of an expected move to Major League Soccer after the World Cup.

His days on Europe's biggest stages, playing for Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, are over.

He was anonymous in Uruguay's first two group games before rolling back the years against Ghana, having a hand in both goals.

But he finished the game in tears after Uruguay fell just short, burying his head in his shirt as the realisation of failure sunk in.

Cavani lost his cool haranguing the referee, picking up a booking and then angrily knocking over the VAR monitor.

Suarez and Cavani were never likely to light up the World Cup in Qatar but nobody expected them to leave it in this way -- making headlines for their emotional reactions rather than their goals.

It was a sad exit for two of the greats of the modern game.

© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022