Luis Suarez and his Uruguay team mates faced an anxious wait on Wednesday as soccer's governing body FIFA decided whether to expel him from the World Cup for biting an opponent in a match against Italy.
The incident in Uruguay's 1-0 victory over the Europeans in Natal on Tuesday has brought the ugly side of the game to the fore, marring a tournament that has been widely praised for its attacking football and major upsets.
Suarez's lawyer, Alejandro Balbi, flew to Rio de Janeiro with Uruguay FA chief Wilmar Valdez to lay out the player's defence, although the consensus among those who have seen replays of the incident is that the forward's future at the tournament is in serious jeopardy.
Now that Balbi has spoken to FIFA, it is up to its disciplinary committee to rule on whether or not Suarez is guilty. Uruguay has up to four more games to play in Brazil, and any ban would probably rule the player out of the finals.
Balbi, Suarez's team and the Uruguayan public generally believe that the forward has been unfairly singled out in what they call a "manhunt" against a player whose chequered career has seen him banned twice before for biting.
"We don't have any doubts that this has happened because it's Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated," said Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member, before he left for Brazil. "There's a lot of pressure from England and Italy."
Uruguay defender Diego Lugano said the incident had been blown out of proportion, and that other potentially more dangerous fouls had been committed in other games.
"Football's like that," he told reporters.
"It's passion, it's contact, and you should have a bit more balance and justice when talking about different incidents, because if not it looks like you only want to take aim at one player or team and it seems on purpose."
The incident in question came 10 minutes from time in Uruguay's Group D game against Italy, when television footage showed Suarez's mouth come down on the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who has accused him of biting.
The Italians were still complaining when Uruguay's Diego Godin scored with an 81st-minute header to secure a win that sent the South Americans through to the last 16 and eliminated four-times champions Italy from the tournament.
MAXIMUM BAN TWO YEARS
Chiellini pulled down his shirt, and Reuters photographs showed what looked like bite marks on his