Boo-birds target Suarez
LONDON — Uruguay’s return to the Olympic soccer tournament was expected to yield the two-time champions another medal and give captain Luis Suarez a chance to finish his tumultuous season on a positive note.
Ultimately, it achieved neither.
Suarez was jeered in each of Uruguay’s three group games and the country’s anthem was booed before Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Britain. That was the last straw for Suarez, who never managed to make his mark on the tournament.
‘‘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,’’ the Liverpool striker said. ‘‘I think those things should not happen.’’
Suarez’s treatment seemed to be the fallout from his eight-game ban for racially abusing a rival player last season, with that episode following him and his national team into the Olympics.
‘‘I think they jeer me and they boo me here because they must be scared of facing a player like me. They fear me, but that doesn’t affect me,’’ Suarez said. ‘‘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.’’
Uruguay was competing for the first time since winning its second Olympic gold in 1928, with Suarez and Edinson Cavani among the European-based stars brought to the London Games with the small nation holding a realistic chance at gold. But the ill feeling toward Suarez seemed to build with every game and appeared to affect the team.
‘‘I’m tired of this situation with Luis,’’ defender Sebastian Coates said. ‘‘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.’’
The loss to Britain at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff capped the disappointing Olympic campaign.
Senior team coach Oscar Tabarez will now turn his focus to qualifying the Copa America champions for the 2014 World Cup.
‘‘This is not the senior team and the same results wouldn’t have happened if the senior team were here,’’ Tabarez said. ‘‘The main difference is experience. This is why we are going home.’’