Brazil to blame for Neymar injury?

Neymar (AFP)
Neymar (AFP)
Cape Town - Neymar has been ruled out of the Soccer World Cup after Juan Zuniga's tackle left the star forward with a fractured vertebra.

VIDEO: Neymar suffers fractured vertebra

The question remains, who is to blame for the injury?

The Colombian right back is now public enemy number one in Brazil after his challenge left Brazil's leading man prone on the floor.

Zuniga has been at the eye of the storm following the confirmation that Neymar had suffered a SWC-ending injury. He has received death threats and has been slammed by media the world over as well as being criticised by former Brazilian superstar Ronaldo, who branded the tackle "evil".

But was it Zuniga's fault?

Brazil committed 31 fouls during the game, a staggering eight more than Colombia. Many of these challenges were made in the attempt to stifle their South American rivals attacking intent.

As soon as the match kicked-off, it was clear that one player on the field was being targeted for some particularly hostile treatment.

This player was not Neymar.

In fact, it was Colombian sensation James Rodriguez who felt the brunt of some crunching tackles.

Fernandinho paid some close attention to Rodriguez and fouled the player on several occasions with the kind of enthusiasm that would make Roy Keane proud. 

James Rodriguez was fouled six times during the game but no challenge on the forward was punished with a yellow card. Favouritism to the home team?

It was only until the 64th minute when the referee produced the evening's first yellow card.

By then it was too late to calm the emotions of the Colombians who were by that stage intent on giving back as good as they had received in Fortaleza.

After the match, Zuniga said that he never meant to hurt a player.

“I was just defending my shirt.” said Zuniga.

While not condoning the type of challenge committed by Zuniga, it was clear to see that it was only a matter of time before a player would succumb to injury as was the nature of the game.

I don't think Juan Zuniga was to blame for Neymar's injury and I would suggest the Brazilians take a closer look at their actions before going on a witch-hunt.

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