World Cup host Brazil, already without leading scorer Neymar for the rest of the soccer tournament, won’t have captain Thiago Silva for tomorrow’s semifinal against Germany after FIFA rejected his appeal of a one-game ban for getting two yellow cards.
Silva, the team’s defensive leader, was booked the second time in the tournament for blocking a goalkeepers’ attempted punt upfield, earning an automatic suspension in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia. Neymar suffered a tournament-ending back injury in the same game.
The FIFA disciplinary committee reviewing Silva’s appeal turned it down because “there is no legal basis entitling it to grant such request,” soccer’s governing body said in an e-mailed statement. FIFA also declined to penalize Juan Zuniga, the Colombian defender who injured Neymar.
Silva’s second yellow card was the first booking in the game after 40 fouls had already been committed. Brazil had argued the offense wasn’t serious enough to earn a caution.
Players appearing in the semifinals have a clean slate, with any cards accumulated in earlier tournament games not counting towards future suspensions to ensure anyone yellow carded doesn’t miss the final.
The loss of Neymar, who broke a vertebrae when Zuniga kneed him in the back five minutes before the end of the game, has dominated national debate, and even prompted a letter from Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.
The 22-year-old led the team with four goals in group play. His influence in the two knockout-stage games was more limited as opponents Chile and then Colombia focused on defending him. Germany and host Brazil play tomorrow in Belo Horizonte.
Neymar said his “World Cup dream isn’t over” in a video posted by the CBF, Brazilian soccer’s governing body.
“I’m certain that my teammates will do whatever possible so I can fulfill my dream of being a champion,” he said. “I won’t be able to fulfill the dream of playing in a World Cup final, but I’m sure they will win this one, they will become champions, and I will be there with them, and all of Brazil will be celebrating together.”
FIFA said it couldn’t take additional measures against Zuniga, who was called for a foul, because the referee had seen the incident.
“It is important to note that the conditions by which the FIFA disciplinary committee can intervene in any incident have to be considered independently of the consequences of that incident, such as an unfortunate injury suffered by a player,” FIFA said.
There was much scrutiny over how FIFA would handle Silva’s appeal, with yellow cards rarely being overturned for anything other than mistaken identity. Accusations of favoritism toward the host nation have already been made by rivals, including Croatia coach Robert Kovac who questioned a referee’s decision to give the hosts a penalty kick against his team in the opening game.
Brazil has benefited from disciplinary appeals in the past, notably before the 1962 final when star player Garrincha was able to play despite being sent off for violent conduct in the previous game.