Neymar out of World Cup 2014: Neymar tackle branded ‘evil and violent’ by former World Cup winner Ronaldo
Striker claims that the tackle was 'unlawful' and that more must be done to stop such challenges happening again
Saturday 05 July 2014
Brazil’s double World Cup-winning striker Ronaldo yesterday branded the tackle by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga which put Neymar out of the World Cup as “evil” and “violent” while another former World Cup winner, ex-Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro, said it was made “with intention to cause harm”. He added that Zuniga must be punished when Fifa review the incident.
eymar later spoke for the first time of his feelings, saying he “didn’t have words to describe what has been going through my head and heart”. Watched by his father and the president of the Brazilian football federation, Jose Maria Marin, he had to be stretchered into a helicopter out of the Brazil training camp to get him home, where he will recover from the break to his third vertebra inflicted by the challenge in Brazil’s 2-1 quarter-final win on Friday. He could be out of action for three to six weeks.
Fifa have already confirmed they will look into the incident in which Zuniga’s knee went into Neymar’s back. The referee appeared to miss it, with no free-kick being awarded or yellow card given.
Video: Neymar's message to fans
Fifa’s head of media Delia Fischer said: “The disciplinary committee is analysing the matter. The spirit of fair play is very important and we want to avoid difficult things on the field of play.”
On Saturday, Ronaldo was scathing about the tackle. “It was a very violent, unlawful tackle,” he said. “We have to demand sanctions be given to violent players. I am in favour of very severe sanctions to those who don’t want to play football and just want to do such violent tackles. It was an evil tackle.”
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In response to the comments, Zuniga said: “I feel burdened by this situation. It resulted from a normal play and there was no bad intention, evil or recklessness from my part. I want to send a special salute to Neymar.”
Zuniga went on: “I admire you, I respect you and I consider you one of the best players in the world. I hope you recover soon in order to continue to show us that in football there is a sport full of virtue and qualities, which I have put into practice since I was 12 years old and as a professional player.”
Read more: Fifa selected lenient referees for quarter-finals
Crowds gather outside hospital to support Neymar
Zuniga defends challenge on Neymar
But Cannavaro disagreed about intent, saying: “I believe it was a situation that could have been avoided. I didn’t like that high knee. It was a foul with intention to cause harm. It will be very hard for Fifa to accept because it is a very evident foul.”
Neymar, who left the field against Colombia in tears and said he “screamed in pain in the dressing-room”, was defiant ahead of Brazil’s semi-final against Germany on Tuesday, saying his World Cup dream was “interrupted by one play but it will continue and I think my team-mates will do whatever possible so I can fulfil my dream of being a champion.”
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