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Deeply sorry & sad: Zuniga

Rio de Janeiro: Colombia defender Camilo Zuniga has sent a letter of apology to Neymar, saying he is “deeply sorry and sad” for causing the injury that knocked the Brazil striker out of the World Cup.

In a statement distributed Saturday by the Colombian team, Zuniga says: “Although I feel the situation was normal in a game, there was no bad intention, malice or negligence on my part.”

Earlier, the Fifa confirmed its disciplinary committee will examine Zuniga’s challenge on Neymar.

“The disciplinary committee is analysing the matter. The spirit of fair play is very important and we want to avoid difficult things on the field of play,” said Fifa’s head of media, Delia Fischer, at a briefing on Saturday.

Meanwhile, despite Zuniga’s protestations that his challenge was honest, former Brazil striker Ronaldo claims the Colombian has a case to answer.

“The challenge was a very violent one I believe there was an intention by the Colombian player to cause some harm,” he told reporters in Brazil.

“I don’t think it was normal football play, I don’t know whether he had planned this beforehand but I do believe it was very aggressive, very violent.”

“We all have to fight for football to have more fair play. We have to demand that sanctions be given to violent players. I am in favour of very severe sanctions to those who don’t want to play football and just want to do such violent tackles.

“It was an evil tackle,” he added.

Ronaldo added that while the quality of refereeing at the World Cup has been generally good, the performance of Spaniard Carlos Velasco Carballo during Friday’s quarter-final against Colombia, which Brazil won 2-1, did not impress him.

Carballo, a top Uefa Champions League referee, did not book anyone until there had been 41 fouls and, although Neymar was left in agony on the ground and quickly carried off on a stretcher, Zuniga was not booked for the incident.

“The referee lost his authority on the pitch,” said Ronaldo although he disagreed with the comments by Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari, who said after the game that he thought the Colombians were “hunting” for Neymar.

“I don’t believe there was a ‘hunt’ for Neymar, but we could see there was an intention by the Colombia player to harm him,” Ronaldo said.

Ronaldo said he felt great sympathy for Neymar and, after learning of the severity of his injury, contacted him in hospital on Friday.

“I sent Neymar a message, conveying my support and solidarity. I told him the whole country is proud of him and the team will win the World Cup and dedicate it to him,” he said.

(agencies)