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Neymar airlifted home for back treatment, Zuñiga issues apology

Neymar airlifted Reuters


Neymar won’t need surgery, but it’s of little consolation as he should certainly miss the rest of the World Cup.

The star striker was reportedly airlifted Saturday out of Brazil’s training camp near Rio de Janeiro via helicopter and transported to his home city in Sao Paulo, where he will continue treatment for a fractured vertebra.

Even without surgery, Neymar will be out for least four weeks, ensuring his World Cup is over. The 22-year-old reportedly has been wearing a brace to keep his back immobilized.

After Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia, where Neymar took Camilo Zuñiga’s knee to the back in a reckless challenge, Neymar had flown back to Rio de Janeiro with his teammates and then took an ambulance to their training camp an hour outside the city. Neymar reportedly waited in a wheelchair for the ambulance to arrive.

Zuñiga’s from-behind challenge in the 86th minute of Friday’s quarterfinal left Neymar clutching his back and screaming in pain. He had to be stretchered off the field into the locker room.

Zuñiga, 28, apologized Saturday to Neymar in a Spanish-language message posted on Instagram, but continued to defend what happened as a normal tackle without malicious intent.

“I deeply lament the sad injury suffered by Neymar in the match between Brazil and Colombia,” the message read. “I feel bad about this situation, which came about from a normal action which had no bad intention, no nastiness or imprudence on my part.”

The statement continued: “I want to send you a special greeting, Neymar. I consider you one of the best players in the world. I hope you recover quickly and that you’re back soon to excite us with your football.”


  1. On my opinion Neymar is the boss player of the football world. May god bless to Neymar. From Bangladesh, there are many supporter whose all of we pray for Neymar….

  2. Getting past the fact that the ref did a lousy job by not showing a red card, let’s look at the injury.

    The doctor has guaranteed Neymar will be fine and can play in 45 days. What that really means is that the injury is MINOR, in the broad spectrum of possible injuries, and if he’d take an injection, he could probably play the next game. Seriously.

    I’m starting to think this is now a convenient way for Brazil to bow out to Germany, because it would be a national tragedy for Brazil to get to the final and meet Argentina only to lose, because Argentina is arguably playing the best right now of the 4 semifinalists. Brazil has not played all that well, to be honest, even if Neymar was fine, and Silva wasn’t suspended I don’t think they would beat Germany, even if the ref is overwhelmed.

    • Who in their right mind would play with a fractured vertebra? This is not his toe we’re talking about here. There were reports that the injury happened an inch away from potential paralysis. But you’re right, let’s risk his entire career, possibly his life, if he were to take another knock in the same area and be paralyzed.

    • Ken you are crazy. broken bone in spine. I have 3 injured discs myself, and I haven’t played a game since. injection, and Argentina is playing the best.

      What games have you been watching?

  3. Zuniga should face the same penalties as the player who bites! It doesn’t matter how many times he apologizes his actions were not related to the soccor ball, or his country as he proclaims. Zuniga’s attack was malicious and vindictive. The conscequences of his actions being far worse then a bite.

    • Or if the ball is in the air, which it was not. Zuniga is lying. I believe that explanation as much as I do Suarez’s. It was wholly intentional. And he, the referee, and Brazil’s own unsportsmanlike conduct are all to blame.

  4. The only person who should be apologizing is the center referee who with his inaction and impudence let play get out of hand. With no punishment for rough play both sides were given a green light to man handle Neymar and James Rodriguez. On the play that Neymar was injured there should have been 2 yellow cards on Colombia, one for Zuniga’s reckless challenge and at the end where the Brazilian player was two armed pulled down. One of the worst performances I’ve seen from a center ref.


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