Luis Suarez case wasn't a distraction, says Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez
Support for the banned striker instead generated "strength and willingness" to compete
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said that his squad had not wasted energy defending disgraced striker Luis Suarez after they were knocked out of the World Cup by Colombia.
Suarez was given a nine-game international ban by Fifa on Thursday for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, meaning that he missed his side's 2-0 loss to Colombia in the last 16 on Saturday.
Captain Diego Lugano hit out at journalists for asking questions about Suarez earlier last week and Tabarez used his pre-game press conference to read out a statement defending his wayward star.
However, he said that the Suarez affair had had no influence on his side's display against Colombia at the Maracana, where they were beaten by two James Rodriguez goals.
"I don't know what energy we could have lost," Tabarez said.
"We simply accepted that he was suspended. We criticised the excessive nature of the sanction, which was very subjective, it's true, but it's the feeling of an entire people who follow football.
"Just like I said about James Rodriguez, World Cups, international matches and the whole show of football need players with Suarez's qualities.
"We tried to defend him, as should be done.
"He's part of our group and pursuing the same objectives, but when he was no longer able to be with us, that was the end of that."
Tabarez said support for Suarez had actually generated "strength and willingness" to compete on the pitch.
"We had the energy and we showed that today [Saturday]," he said.