Luis Suarez's Uruguay team-mate Diego Lugano has threatened to reignite the race row involving Patrice Evra after claiming the Liverpool forward "did not deserve" the criticism levelled at him throughout the past few months.
Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Evra during a league game between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield, resulting in an eight-match ban. The pair then came face-to-face for the first time on the pitch in the return match at Old Trafford, where Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand.
The Liverpool man's actions drew widespread criticism, not least from Sir Alex Ferguson, who labelled him a "disgrace to Liverpool Football Club", and Suarez later apologised for his decision. A follow-up apology from the club appeared to have drawn a line under the issue.
However, Lugano, a player who knows Suarez well, insists the Liverpool man has been the victim of the piece. The Uruguay captain insists hypocritical coverage in England turned Suarez into a villain and, amid speculation of a move for the Liverpool man to Lugano's club Paris St Germain, he claims there was no need for Suarez to shake Evra's hand.
"He has gone through a few months he did not deserve," Lugano said on his official website. "You have to have the balls to do what Luis did on Saturday.
"He followed his principles. We live in a democracy and if you do not want to greet someone, do not greet them - and less so if that person has made you experience bad moments.
"All of us in football know it's a big circus. Keep in mind that England is historically a colonial country and racism is a sensitive subject, but we all know that has nothing to do with what happened between Luis and the United player. It's a football argument and many false moralists and hypocrites have profited, and Luis is the only innocent party."
Uruguay president Jose Mujica also offered his support to Suarez on radio station M24: "There is solidarity with Suarez. Suarez is not a racist and never will be."
Liverpool defender Daniel Agger also stated his belief that the two clubs would have settled matters much easier had the media not inflamed the situation.
"There's been a lot of talk about the two of them over here in the media, but I think for the most part it's been the media who have been concerned with it," Agger told Jyllands-Posten. "It's a big issue for them, but it's not been so big for us."