Suarez says Uruguay players let guard down after spate of COVID-19 cases

Uruguay's national team faced criticism after pictures emerged of the players enjoying a barbecue and sharing the traditional tea 'mate' through a communal straw.

Luis Suarez

FILE PHOTO: Luis Suarez was among 10 Uruguay players to test COVID-19 positive.   -  Getty Images

Uruguay forward Luis Suarez has apologised for the team “letting their guard down” during the international break after 16 members of its squad and staff, including Suarez, tested positive for COVID-19.

The national team faced fierce criticism after pictures emerged of the players enjoying a barbecue without observing social distancing as well as sharing the traditional tea 'mate', which is drunk through a communal straw.

“Many people are criticising us. We committed an error and we apologise for that,” Atletico Madrid's Suarez told Uruguay television programme Punto Penal (Penalty Spot) on Sunday.

“The infection did not happen because of the barbecue, that's very clear. We had the bad luck of one of us getting infected in Colombia.”

Suarez was among 10 players to test positive while away with Uruguay, along with his Atletico team mate Lucas Torreira and Cagliari's Diego Godin, the national side's captain. Six staff members were also infected.

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The striker, who missed Uruguay's 2-0 defeat to Brazil as well as Atletico's 1-0 win over his former side Barcelona on Saturday, said he was asymptomatic and was self-isolating in an apartment in Madrid.

He also said he and other team mates had tested negative on several occasions during the international break, including after Matias Vina became the first player to test positive.

“We all felt uncertain as we had been with Matias in the dressing room and the showers but then we tested negative and thought we were safe. Then unfortunately, there were more cases and the whole thing snowballed,” he explained.

“We made a mistake. We let our guard down when we tested negative and then several positive tests started appearing. We did something wrong.

“This should serve as a warning to all young people out there and everybody else that nobody is immune and even though we are tested very often we need to take care of ourselves.”

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