Neymar looks set to play no further part in the Copa America after being suspended for four games by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).
The Brazil striker was sent off at the end of his side’s 1-0 Group C defeat by Colombia Wednesday for kicking the ball at opponent Pablo Armero, an act that was already set to bring him an automatic one game ban.
But CONMEBOL increased the punishment Friday upon reviewing the case and taking into account Neymar’s “subsequent actions” at the final whistle – although Brazil coach Carlos Dunga hinted that the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) will likely appeal this decision Saturday.
TV footage appeared to show Neymar leaning his head aggressively towards Jeison Murillo when the Colombia defender approached him in the aftermath of the ball being struck at Armero.
Reports in the Brazilian media also suggested the 23-year-old Barcelona star confronted Chilean referee, Enrique Osses, near the changing rooms after he was ushered down the tunnel by coaching staff.
Speaking to reporters Saturday, Dunga said “CBF legal experts will respond to all the action taken against Neymar,” in quotes carried by the AFP news agency.
“We don’t want anything in our favor, we don’t want anything against us. We just want it to be balanced,” Dunga added.
Colombia striker Carlos Bacca was also given a two game ban, without the possibility of appeal, for shoving Neymar in the back during the incident which spoiled Los Cafeteros’ first victory over Brazil since 1991.
Neymar, who was shackled and frustrated by Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez for much of Wednesday’s game, had already been given a yellow card for deliberate handball before seeing red on the full-time whistle.
The result marked Brazil’s first defeat under Dunga who is 12 games into his second spell in charge of the national team.
It was also the Selecao’s first reverse since its humiliating 7-1 loss against Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinal in Belo Horizonte.
Neymar missed that game after fracturing a vertebrae in the quarterfinal under a rough challenge from Colombia’s Juan Zuniga.
As it stands, both Colombia and Brazil have three points from two games in this year’s Copa America and can progress to the next stage Sunday when they face Peru and Venezuela respectively.
Despite some exciting matches its fair to say the 2015 Copa America hasn’t been the happiest tournament for some of South America’s biggest football stars thus far.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez didn’t even make the competition owing to his ongoing ban from international competition for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at last year’s World Cup.
And before Neymar’s ban Juventus and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal crashed his Ferrari while allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
Vidal did turn out for Chile as it thrashed Bolivia 5-0 in Santiago Friday, however, to qualify for the quarterfinals as winners of Group A.
The tournament hosts will be joined in the next stage by it’s vanquished opponent which qualifies in second place despite the heavy loss thanks to an earlier draw against Mexico and victory over Ecuador.
Ecuador defeated Mexico 2-1 in Friday’s other Group A game.