World soccer federation FIFA cleared Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuñiga for a foul that ended the tournament for Brazilian star forward Neymar during a recent quarter final match.
FIFA stated that there were no bad intentions on Zuñiga’s part, and that he was in constant search of the ball. This decision goes against many of the criticisms and threats levied against Zuñiga, especially from Brazilian fans and officials, reports national Caracol Radio.
The controversial event occurred towards the end of the game in which Colombia lost 2-1 and was eliminated from the World Cup. The Colombian defender jumped Neymar from behind, planting a knee in the striker’s lower back and pushing him down. Zuñiga received harsh criticism for the challenge, especially from Brazil. Notably, Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo stated that it was a “foul with intention to do harm.”
Brazil’s star player was subsequently taken to hospital for treatment on a fractured vertebra in his lower back. Attending medic Rodrigo Lasmar told reporters the injury would not require surgery, but would take three to four weeks to heal, effectively ending the World Cup for Neymar.
Zuñiga apologized in an official statement posted on the Colombian Soccer Federation’s (FCF) website that, “I feel bad for this situation [that resulted in the injury of Neymar], of which there was no maliciousness, bad intention or imprudence on my part.” Zuñiga also recognized the talent of Neymar in the letter stating he “admires and respects” the Brazilian forward, calling him one of the best players in the world.
Zuñiga was born on December 14, 1985 in Chigorodo, Antioquia. Zuñiga, a left back, often playing as a winger, is recognized as one of the better players overall on the team. He plays for successful Italian squad SSC Napoli.
- FIFA asegura que Zuñiga no tuvo mala intención en lesión de Neymar (Caracol Radio)
- Carta de Camilo Zúñiga a Neymar (Federación Colombiana de Fútbol)
- Disciplinary update on matters relating to Brazil-Colombia match (FIFA)