Football: Brazil call on Fifa to scrap Silva suspension as semis loom
Published on Jul 7, 2014 6:15 AM
RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazil stoked controversy ahead of the World Cup semi-finals here on Sunday by calling on Fifa to scrap the suspension which has ruled captain Thiago Silva out of the host nation’s clash with Germany.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said it wanted Fifa to rescind the yellow card awarded against Silva during Friday’s bruising quarter-final win over Colombia.
The card against Silva was “unjustly shown” and the defender should therefore be allowed to face the Germans in Belo Horizonte, the CBF said in a statement.
The Brazilian association also demanded Fifa launch an investigation into the “violent challenge” by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga which saw star striker Neymar ruled out of the tournament.
Zuniga has apologised for the tackle but insisted there was no intention to injure the opponent.
Neymar cried “I can’t feel my legs” after Zuniga’s knee in the back challenge, Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told Spanish sports daily Marca.
Scolari said the whole team panicked.
Left back Marcelo was first to reach the striker, who suffered a fractured vertebrae.
Marcelo knelt next to Neymar and asked how he felt, according to Scolari. “He replied: ‘I can’t feel my legs,’” added the coach.
Marcelo shouted for the team doctor, but doctors are not allowed onto the pitch. “It was a big shock, the image of Neymar being stretchered off to the helicopter, in difficulty, crying,” Scolari was quoted as saying.
If Brazil’s appeal of Silva’s suspension fails, they will line up against Germany missing two key players after Neymar’s injury exit.
However German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said Sunday he believes Neymar’s absence could spell trouble for his team, suggesting it may give the hosts a cause to rally around.
“It’ll bring the (Brazil) team together and they’ll want to win the title for him,” Schweinsteiger said.
Schweinsteiger, who will his 107th cap on Tuesday, said he would have preferred to be playing Brazil in the final.
“It’s an honour and a challenge to play against the hosts, but it have would be better to play Brazil in the final,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, to play the hosts in this football-crazy country, I mean that in a positive sense, is something special.” Tuesday’s match is only the second meeting in World Cup history between Brazil and Germany.
The previous meeting was the 2002 World Cup final won by Brazil in Japan.
The semi-final line-up was completed on Saturday with Argentina beating Belgium 1-0 to set up a showdown with the Netherlands, who defeated Costa Rica on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal awoke on Sunday to be greeted by headlines hailing his decision to substitute goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for Tim Krul just moments before the end of extra-time as penalties loomed.
The decision proved to be inspired, with Krul saving two Costa Rican penalties as the Dutch progressed.
Krul revealed Sunday he had only been informed of the gambit shortly before the match.
“The manager and the goalie coach told me before the game if we had a substitute left the possibility was there to use me in the penalty shootout,” said Krul.
“The whole game I was watching it differently because I knew the possibility was there.” Dutch newspapers hailed van Gaal’s ploy.
“In sport, at the highest level, success can be decided by the thinnest of margins. Sometimes it stems from luck, sometimes from a sixth sense,” commented De Telegraaf.
Another Dutch daily, Volkskrant, also poured superlatives over the 62-year-old coach, who is due to step down and take over the reins at English Premier League giants Manchester United.
“The change was a masterstroke. Tim Krul saved two penalties,” it purred.
Dutch TV station NOS also chimed in with admiring comments.
“Contrary to all expectations, Louis van Gaal replaced Cillessen by Tim Krul for the penalties. Tim Krul turned out to be the hero by saving two penalties.”