Just deserts for Brasil?

Are the Brasilians themselves mostly responsible for Neymar’s horrible on-the-field injury during their quarter-final match with Team Colombia on 4 July? Before you say “no,” check out this excellent analysis by Sam Borden recounting the sordid details of Brasil’s dirty tactics as well as the one-sided officiating during the Brasil-Colombia match. Here is an extended excerpt of Mr Borden’s thoughtful essay:

So what happened to Neymar? How did the face of this tournament end up in a hospital? Brazilian fans will not like to hear it, but while [Juan Camilo] Zúñiga was directly responsible for causing Neymar’s injury, Neymar’s teammates — specifically Fernandinho, though there were others — as well as the referee, Carlos Velasco Carballo, deserve their share of the blame, too. They did not commit the crime, but they contributed to an environment of lawlessness that led to Neymar’s being battered …

… from the first minute it appeared that Brazil was determined to play the game cynically, tripping and pushing and kicking at Colombia’s players, especially James Rodríguez, the team’s wunderkind scorer. Colombia, on the other hand, seemed almost deferential at first. When Neymar went off on a spirited run six minutes into the game, the Colombian defenders did little to try to knock him off stride, let alone scythe him to the ground as previous opponents had done. He ran freely.

When Rodríguez went to claim the ball a few minutes later, however, Brazil’s Óscar ran right into Rodríguez’s back as if to make clear to him that no space on the Fortaleza field would be a safe space. Rodríguez’s teammates were understandably upset, but there was no retaliation — the feeling of violence in the game, especially early on, came almost exclusively from Brazil …

It was in the 57th minute, though, when the match began to boil over. The Colombians had continued to mostly sit back and take the punishment, but they were clearly infuriated when Silva crushed Ramos from behind as he went toward a ball. Velasco Carballo, again, declined to whistle a foul. The Colombians’ ire was raised even more 10 minutes later when the referee showed a yellow card to Rodríguez — who was apoplectic at the decision — for an innocuous trip that was, as Rodríguez vociferously pointed out with multiple hand gestures, a first offense compared with Fernandinho’s harrying.

In other words, a rough-and-ready form of retribution (some might say “justice”) was finally meted out to the Brasilians in the 87th minute of the match, who got what they deserved, don’t you think?

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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