Luis Suarez has returned home to Uruguay, but he missed the crowds who had come to greet a national hero expelled from the World Cup for biting.
Suarez landed early Friday on a private flight, hours after the expected arrival time.
President Jose Mujica was among some 1,000 people who came to Carrasco International Airport in Montevideo to greet Suarez Thursday night, but the president and the rest of the crowd left well before he arrived after being told that the player's flight was delayed. Mujica left without making comments to the press.
Suarez bit the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's 1-0 win in the group stage on Tuesday, but escaped unpunished in the game itself as the referee did not see the incident.
"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup, when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, said in a statement.
But Uruguayans did not buy the explanation.
"The immorality and hypocrisy of FIFA has no limits. Neither does Chiellini's inclination for being a tattle-tale and a fink!" Luis Puig, a lawmaker for Uruguay's ruling Broad Front coalition said on his Twitter account.
Suarez also got support from former Argentine star Diego Maradona, who argued that the World Cup has seen worse foul play than the bite and those incidents have gone unpunished. "This is football, this is incidental contact," he said on Venezuela's Telesur network.
"They have no common sense or a fan's sensibility," said Maradona, who at the end of the broadcast pulled on a white T-shirt with the message: "Luisito, we are with you."
This is the third time Suarez has been banned for biting an opponent, following similar incidents with Ajax in the Dutch league and Liverpool. He was given a 10-match ban by the Premier League for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013.
Besides the biting incidents, Suarez has been vilified for racially abusing an opposing player and for a handball on the goal-line during an earlier World Cup quarterfinal. He also has been accused of having a penchant for diving.
But Suarez also stuns fans with moments of brilliance on the field, leaving some to compare him to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The Uruguayan striker for Liverpool was last season's player of the year in England's Premier League.
Valdez, the head of Uruguay's soccer federation, said that it was Suarez who was targeted for aggression by the Italians.
"When he falls, several substitutes insult him on the ground and some members of Italy's staff even came off the bench to try to hit him," Valdez said, suggesting FIFA should investigate Italy.
Any appeal by Uruguay must first go to the FIFA appeal committee, said FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer. If rejected, Suarez and Uruguay could take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"We should withdraw from the World Cup, because what they have done is so lamentable. But at least we can go forward with dignity," said former soccer player Robert Lima, who won several Uruguayan championship with the club Penarol.