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Jul 4, 2014

Neymar out: Brazilian media reaction

Brazil are set to face Germany without their two biggest stars in Neymar and Thiago Silva.

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Following the news that Neymar will miss the rest of the World Cup due to a fractured vertebra, the mood among some parts of the Brazilian media was one of anger.

"It was malicious... a deliberate attack on football and art," said legendary sports broadcaster Galvão Bueno on Globo, Brazil's biggest network.

Much of the outrage was directed towards the leniency of Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.

"This Spanish referee was like the Spanish team at this World Cup: a joke," raged terrestrial channel Band TV's firebrand sports presenter, Milton Neves.

Sports coverage on Brazil's cable channels tends to be a little more measured, however, and on SporTV, Brazil's 1970 World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Torres had his doubts over Colombian defender Juan Zuniga's intent. "For me, it was an accident. He tried to break up the play. It's the kind of challenge you see all the time," Torres said.

Fabio Cannavaro, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, speaking on the same channel, was less convinced. "I'm a little more cynical," he said. "Neymar isn't transparent. He came from behind with his knee up."

ESPN's Antero Greco agreed with Carlos Alberto. "So now we've found the villain of the World Cup. The game was violent on both sides. Even [Luiz Felipe] Scolari admitted it. Any other interpretation is hysteria," he tweeted.

His colleague Mauro Cesar felt the same: "The Colombian player's challenge was strong, but demonising Zuniga is taking it too far. Strong tackles and injuries happen. All we can do is support Neymar."

Journalists and celebrities were also busy expressing their condolences, and wrath, on Twitter. The most high profile was Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. "Like all Brazilians, I'm united with Neymar! #StrengthNeymar", she tweeted.

"I'm devastated that @neymarjr is out of the World Cup. It was a ridiculous foul that wasn't even punished. The only thing that was punished was talent. What a pity," wrote journalist and TV presenter Fatima Bernardes.

"So your dreams won't come true this time!! But we're going to give everything to overcome your loss!!! #FIFAStandardRefereeing" wrote another TV presenter, Astrid Fontenelle, the hashtag an echo of the political protests that swept Brazil last year, when demonstrators called for FIFA standard schools and hospitals.

Soap star Juliana Paes was less diplomatic. "#Zuniga #COWARD what now #FIFA??? A broken vertebrae is worse than a bite, I think. It's so sad... #StrengthNeymar #GetIntoThemBrazil" she tweeted.

Writing in the Folha de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's top sports journalists, Juca Kfouri, stayed positive about Brazil's World Cup hopes: "It was Brazil's best performance of the World Cup...and things could get even better, even without Neymar, who will be missed, really missed. But Neymar is only one player, and he isn't Messi, much less Pelé. And without Pelé, we won the World Cup in 1962."

For Lance!, Mauro Beting remembered other great players who have been injured during World Cups, such as Hungary's Ferenc Puskas in 1954 and Franco Baresi of Italy in 1994, before discussing the tactical alternatives open to Scolari. He concluded by saying that winning "is possible. But this was another blow that Brazilian football fans did not deserve."

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