Liverpool striker Luis Suarez received the support of Uruguayan president Jose Mujica Thursday, who claimed the 25-year-old "is not racist" and hit out at those critical of the player.
Suarez "does not merit the media pressure to which they have submitted him to, because we know that he is clearly not racist, that he never has been and that he never will be," the Uruguayan leader said on his radio show "Habla el Presidente".
Mujica went on to express his "solidarity with this marvellous boy on a football pitch, who has given us much joy".
The support from Mujica adds to that Suarez has received from his international teammates, notably captain Diego Lugano, and the president of the Uruguayan football association.
Suarez received an eight-match ban and was ordered to pay a 48,000-euro fine for racially abusing Patrice Evra during a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester at Anfield in October.
On Saturday, Suarez provoked further controversy by refusing to shake Evra's hand during the traditional pre-match handshake routine at Old Trafford, in his first match against United since the initial incident.
After the match, Suarez issued an apology after the club's hierarchy intervened, who stressed the striker's "behaviour was not acceptable".
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish said that he was "shocked to learn (that he) had not shaken hands after having told him during the week that he would".
Meanwhile, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, called Suarez "a disgrace to the club of Liverpool" and added that "this player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again".
The fierce criticism Suarez has received from the media, sporting authorities and politicans has led to speculation that the striker's future may lie away from Liverpool.