Relief for Brazil and a Good Start for Neymar!

But the Elbowing Incident is a Blot for Both!

The Barcelona vs Real Madrid rivalry appeared to have spilled over to the 2014 World Cup in Sao Palo that Brazil kicked off with an unconvincing, even embarrassing 3-1 win over Croatia on June 12, helped by controversial decisions from Japanese umpire Yuichi Nishimura.

The Straits Times today had a picture of Neymar on the front page with the headline, A Star is Born. That, I think, betrayed the bias of the newspaper towards the Brazilian star who escaped being sent off the field with a red card for what looked like a nasty, deliberate and dangerous foul against Croatian Luka Modric.

Neymar plays for Barcelona in the Spanish League and Modric for Real Madrid

In a frenetic attempt to grab the ball, Neymar elbowed Modric on the throat that had the latter slump to the ground. Neymar was given a mere yellow card for the offence!

That is as much a shame for the umpire as for Neymar as if the Brazilian football poster boy cannot play clean football then it is a let-down for fans of the game who expect to see deserving winners and not those who score by hook or by crook!

Neymar is a brilliant player and may still be given the benefit of doubt. He scored two of Brazil’s three goals in the game which has given him a dream World Cup start. A Red Card would not have given him that!

If the elbowing controversy the game generated serves as an eye-opener for him and makes him deliver delightful samba soccer as is expected from Brazil it will be a lesson well learnt!

Brazil deserved to win the match, with only an own goal from Marcelo having given Croatia the lead early in the game. In the 1994 World Cup, Colombian Escobar scored an own goal against the U.S. that contributed to his country losing the game. Tragically, the unfortunate own goal resulted in Escobar being murdered after the World Cup.

I was then working for the Singapore edition of the football magazine, Shoot! The Cup was then won by Brazil through a tiebreaker in the final that proved to be a heart-breaker for Italy, with star player Roberto Baggio missing his penalty!

Infringements can happen by accident on the field but when they are calculated, conscious attempts to keep or grab possession of the ball there can be only one word to describe that – disgraceful!

Neymar foul

Picture taken from the match report in The Daily Mail

G Joslin Vethakumar

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