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Suarez 'hurt' by criticism of Barca players' pay cut delay

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Montevideo (AFP)

Uruguay star Luis Suarez complained on Thursday that he has been "hurt" by criticism of him and fellow millionaire Barcelona players for the time it took to agree to pay cuts to help out other club employees.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi announced on Monday that Barca's players had agreed to a 70 percent pay cut and to make contributions to ensure the club's non-playing staff could be paid in full during the state of alarm in Spain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Footballers across Europe's top leagues have come under fire as some clubs have made cuts to their non-playing staff or their salaries while many wealthy players have yet to see their incomings affected.

"It hurts because we were the first to want to reach an agreement," Suarez told Uruguayan radio station Sport890.

"We know the situation the club is in, the situation the world is in right now and it was a minimal detail (holding up the agreement).

"But people have said things like us players didn't want to give in; that the basketball and handball players came to an agreement and we didn't.

"We hadn't come to an agreement because we were waiting to find the best solution for the club, and to our benefit and trying to help the employees."

In announcing the agreement, Messi had directed a thinly veiled swipe at the Barca board, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, whom he accused of undermining the players during recent negotiations.

His lengthy Instagram post was shared by a slew of teammates, including Suarez.

Striker Suarez, who has remained in Spain unlike some of his European-based international teammates such as Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin, called on Uruguay to impose a strict lockdown.

"It's the best solution for everyone. I know it's difficult in Uruguay where many people live day to day ... but if we don't all come together and go in the same direction, it's going to be difficult to come out of this situation," he said.

Uruguay has partially closed its borders, shut schools and shopping malls and advised people to social distance and stay at home, but hasn't imposed a lockdown.

So far, the country has had 350 coronavirus cases and four deaths.

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