SANTIAGO: Chile defender Gonzalo Jara was thrown out of the Copa America on Sunday (Monday in Manila) over his attempt to shove his finger into the backside of Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, the Chilean Football Federation confirmed.
A statement said Jara had been suspended for three matches following a disciplinary hearing by South American football’s ruling body CONMEBOL into the lurid flashpoint during last week’s quarterfinals.
“The Chilean Football Federation has been informed of the suspension for three matches of Gonzalo Jara by the disciplinary committee of CONMEBOL,” the statement said.
“We regret this sanction but we will accept it,” the federation added in the statement on its website.
The ban rules Jara out of Chile’s semifinals with Peru on Monday as well as the finals if the hosts progress that far.
CONMEBOL opened disciplinary proceedings against Jara on Saturday, saying the body was obliged to do so after receiving a formal complaint about the player’s conduct by Uruguayan officials.
However Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli criticized the suspension on Sunday, saying it set a dangerous precedent.
“If you start acting on allegations outside of the referees report, things are going to get very complicated,” Sampaoli said.
“If people start getting suspended on the basis of allegations from one side, then everyone will start trying to do it,” he added.
Jara triggered a wave of revulsion and condemnation over his bizarre assault on Cavani, who was sent off for retaliating as a result.
Reverse angle television footage and photos of the incident showed Jara appearing to jab a finger into Cavani’s backside.
It was the latest controversial incident involving Jara and an Uruguayan opponent. In 2013, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez punched him after the Chilean appeared to grab his testicles during a World Cup qualifier.
Jara’s suspension gives Sampaoli a major headache, meaning he will have to field a relatively untested central defensive partnership against Peru in Santiago on Monday.
Jara had formed an effective unit alongside Inter Milan’s Gary Medel in the heart of the Chilean defence but his suspension means Sampaoli will now look to either Francisco Silva, Miiko Albornoz or Jose Rojas.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca played down the significance of Jara’s absence however. “Chile has good strength in depth in that position, I don’t think it will affect them that much,” Gareca said.