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FIFA disciplinary committee reviewing Juan Camilo Zuñiga’s foul on Neymar

Jul 5, 2014, 4:26 PM EST

Brazil's Neymar is fouled by Colombia's Juan Zuniga during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Brazil and Colombia at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) AP

Carlos Velasco Carballo may not have seen anything egregious about Juan Camilo Zuñiga’s foul on Neymar, but FIFA’s not so sure. After Brazil’s star player was left with a broken vertebra as a result of the Colombian defender’s challenge, the lead referee during yesterday’s World Cup quarterfinal whistled for a foul yet declined to produce a card. Roughly one hour later, Neymar’s tournament was over, with the injury inflicted by Zuniga ruling the Barcelona star out for his country’s final two matches.

Today, FIFA announced that the governing body’s disciplinary committee will investigate the foul, though with Colombia eliminated after yesterday’s 2-1 loss in Fortaleza, Brazil, it’s unclear justice could be brought through a retroactive punishment, though given how much attention’s been paid to the foul, even a symbolic ruling may help.

Here’s a FIFA spokesperson, from reporting by England’s Press Association (published in The Observer/The Guardian):

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.”

In case you missed the incident, it occurred as Neymar settled under a ball coming out of Brazil’s end in the 87th minute. Zuñiga, going in to challenge, jumped through Neymar, lifting his right knee into the base of the Brazilian’s back.

Neymar was eventually taken off the field on a stretcher and to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with be broken third vertebra. The injury will not require surgery, but the recuperation time means the 22-year-old will miss the semifinal and either Brazil’s third place game or the tournament’s final.

In GIF form:

So what can the disciplinary committee do? According to section 77 of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code:

The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for:

a) sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention;
b) rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions;
c) extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art 18, par. 4);
d) pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.

There is room for more than a fine, however. Section 78:

78 Jurisdiction of the chairman ruling alone

1. The chairman of the Disciplinary Committee may take the following decisions alone:
a) suspend a person for up to three matches or for up to two months;
b) pronounce a fine of up to CHF 50,000;
c) rule on extending a sanction (art. 136);
d) settle disputes arising from objections to members of the Disciplinary Committee;
e) pronounce, alter and annul provisional measures (cf. art. 129).

So there is a mechanism to punch Zuñiga. Whether he should be punished, we can pick up in another post.

Regardless, according to the organization, FIFA will bring its disciplinary committee into play. Zuñiga’s foul may yet earn more than a mere whistle.

  1. Greg - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Fantastic, anything that results in an injury now must be put forth before this committee so long bans can be handed out. After Zuniga is appropriately scapegoated, I fully expect Ghana’s John Boye raked over these new found coals for the high kick that broke Clint Dempsey’s nose

    Oh, wait, he’s not the host nations golden boy so nothing ever happened?

    If this was, say, Bryan Ruiz, and not Neymar, this disciplinary kangaroo court would not even be happening.

    • izkalkoatl822014 - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      It is a shame that this kind of PIG did it to Neymar, that zuniga’s frustration of to know that Brazil is better than Colombia
      I wish the disciplinary commission wouldn’t let him play again until Neymar recovers 100%.

  2. jucam1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Read the great article on the times today, it totally explains what happened, how the fouls were so one sided and continually committed by the Brazilians, and how the Colombians had to start playing as rough as the Brazilians had to stay in the game because the Ref was horrible and let them get away with it. If the Ref doesn’t create that environment, this never happens. Zuñiga was just adjusting to the playing style and with zero intent went in hard to match the game style and this unfortunate incident happened. Zuñiga didn’t intend it but yet because FIFA will never take responsibility and won’t admit the ref was corrupt from the get go Zuñiga will get a harsher suspension than he deserves. Brazil was going to probably win that game anyway without Fifa doing its usual cheating, but this was horrible and created this

    • simonkulberg - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      The problem with this of course is that it ignores that the Colombians started out scything down Neymar every time he got the ball in the first half as well. Zunaga was one of many Colombians not booked for dirty fouls in the first half, not to mention the second half.
      People have this fixation about some grand Brazil/FIFA conspiracy and entirely overlook all the evidence which doesn`t support it. And there was loads and loads of it in this match and in the Chile match. For example, if there was such a conspiracy, why wasn`t Hulk given a penalty vs Chile when he fell down in the first half? Why wasn`t Zunaga booked when he assaulted Neymar?

      All there was in Brazil vs Colombia was pathetic refereeing, which hit both teams equally. And vs Chile the refereeing was good and balanced.

  3. the0verheadwire - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    The first thing they should actually do is look over head, neck, and back injury procedures for taking people off the field. If you have a broken vertebrae, you should be stabilized on a backboard to keep from further risk or injuring your spinal cord. The medical evacuation of Neymar off the pitch was horrific as he bounced up and down in that canoe as they walked him out of the arena.

  4. jucam1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    First of all, both Simon and especially the MORON “Izka”, are way wrong! Brasil came out to shred the Colombian team. Take your Brasil colored glasses off and see the truth. Every newspaper globally says the same thing. Brasil played a dirty game and the ref let them get away with it and then Colombia had to retaliate. Please don’t spew your internet “tough guy” nonsense and pathetic team alliance. We all know what happened here. Brasil’s government corrupted FIFA to let them have the Cup in Brasil. The government spent and stole 55 Billion in stadiums the country will never use. Manaus? Come on!. FIFA knows they cant let Brasil lose because the local riots will start again. The Gov stole money! I believe that given a fair and good Ref, Brasil would have probably still won on merit (maybe). However, FIFA and the Brasilian government couldn’t take the chance after Chile came do close. Hence they put this moron of a ref and destroyed what could have been a great game by letting the Brasilians wrestle the Colombian team down for 2/3 of the game. Colombia finally got fed up with this insane tactic that Brasil was allowed to get away with. Don’t blame Zuñiga who had no intent to hurt and was just playing the way Brasil and the ref set the tone. Blame FIFA and Brasil’s team play fir taking this level of play to the point where it got someone hurt. Please be MEN and own up to the facts that the rest if the world saw. Check out the NY Times and the Guardian. They have multiple articles that agree with what I am saying. We all saw what happened and it starts with the Brasilian team and the awful Ref FIFA put out there. This game deserved better.

    • simonkulberg - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      First of all, insults and appeals to authority and majority are all logical fallacies. It is possible that you`re right, but you will be right despite all these formal errors that you are making here. Nothing is true just because the NY Times and the London Guardian writes it.
      Go look at the tackling on particularly Neymar in the first half again and tell me that Colombia didn`t contribute to the nasty character of this match from the outset. The Brazilians were doing the same thing to Rodriguez but apparently bot you, the NY Times and Guardian are unable to notice anything that doesn`t conform with your weird preconceptions, so you missed that the Colombians were doing it to Neymar as well.
      You`re the one who is wrong until you realize this. It was a dirty game from both teams and the blame lies with the ref. Other than that Colombia lost because of poor defending on a set piece and Luiz` freekick. Not because of the ref, Fernandinho or FIFA.

  5. jolink653 - Jul 6, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    I don’t want to hear about the ref blowing any calls against Colombia. He did everything he could to ensure that none of the Brazilians on yellow cards would not pick up a second to miss the next match, but was forced by Silva to pull a card because of all the reckless and stupid challenges he kept making. Brazil has and will receive the benefit of the doubt in every game when it comes to fouls, something that was made perfectly clear by the abysmal calls in the opener against Croatia. As the host nation, I guess that’s expected, but come on; this is getting embarrassing for FIFA now, and that ref in the Colombia match came extremely close to losing control of the players

  6. jucam1 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    I’ll agree to this point and I have stated it before. Brasil would have probably won that game without this atrocious ref. I am not saying that is a point if contention. However you are very naive if you don’t think FIFA has influenced several matches for financial gain. Second, if all the reputable news outlets outside of Brasil agree with my point of view, then at the very least you have to admit there was something really wrong with the way the ref called that game. I am absolutely fine with the final score, what I am 100% against is the vilifying of Zuñiga for playing a style that he was forced to play, the atrocious wrestlemania style of play the Brasilians came out with, and the disgusting ref that allowed it to happen. If the ref hands out a yellow after the third of Fernandinhos 6 fouls and another to either team that continues that style of play, Neymar never gets injured. However since the ref was hell bent on making sure no Brasilian got a yellow so they could go on to the next round and it literally took Thiago doing the dumbest thing ever to get a yellow anyway, i agree with the majority of the news outlets and with what I saw, the ref was horrible and FIFA is to blame for it. They actually came out after the game and congratulated him for his officiating right after, before the uproar from the press. They knew he was going to be condemned ahead if time.

  7. 407magic - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Jucam1 I totally agree with you. It goes beyond the ref. he sucked cuz FIFA told him to suck. Don’t pull yellows or call much of anything. He had to pull yellows on silva and Cesar cuz they gave him no excuse not to. Silva didn’t give ospina room and Cesar intentionally KICKED baca for a yellow and penalty.
    You can’t blame brasil for playing rough. Wouldn’t you play rough if you just fouled James Rod from behind and no foul or warning was given. You do it again and still nothing.

    Zuniga jumped in to kick the ball, neymar stood with his back turned. You can see Zuniga was looking up the entire time and even held his leg from extending. Trying to pull it back but when you’re already in the air what can you do.

    If FIFA would of allowed this ref to pull a yellow in the first half or at least give out warnings neymar would still be playing. I guess you can say its karma towards FIFA. Wanting brasil/Germany semi with neymar the star. Well FIFA that’s what you get.
    -Not saying Colombia lost cuz due to the bad no calls. Saying neymar got injured due to lack of warnings and yellows.

  8. jpabassi - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    jucam1 : no player or man as you stated “has” to play the way juan camilo did. Furthermore he intentionally tried to hurt neymar and succeeded . however going in to the match i was going for brazil just because i dont like columbia but the way they handled james is disgraceful and i found myself rooting for columbia in the end . it was by far the worst game in the world cup so far. and as far as zuniga goes year suspension with a fine should be his punishment , thats exactly what they do in the nfl, but i guess in futbol bounties aren’t that serious.

  9. jucam1 - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    407, we are aligned completely. Also FIFA cane out today and stated that after review Zuñiga was going for the ball and had zero intent to injure. However, I think they want to bury this story and move on as fast as possible so the debate disappears and the obvious fact that the ref and maybe FIFA themselves killed what could have been a great game.

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