Fifa turns down Brazil's ban appeal for Silva
Governing body also rules Colombian Zuniga will not be punished for challenge on Neymar
BRAZIL v GERMANY
(Tomorrow, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141, StarHub TV Ch 223 & MediaCorp okto)
Fifa has rejected Brazil's request to allow suspended captain Thiago Silva to face Germany in the semi-finals tomorrow morning (Singapore time) as it angrily hits back at claims that referees had been told to be lenient towards foul play.
A statement from Fifa's disciplinary committee dismissed Brazil's plea for Silva out of hand, stating there was "no legal basis" for the defender's yellow card against Colombia to be rescinded.
In a further snub, Fifa disciplinary chiefs also ignored the growing clamour in Brazil for Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zuniga to face retrospective punishment over the aerial challenge that ended Neymar's tournament.
The statement said the committee "deeply regrets the incident and the serious consequences on Neymar's health".
But Zuniga could not be punished because the incident in last Friday's stormy quarter-final in Fortaleza had been seen by the match officials at the time, a statement said.
Disciplinary action could only be applied retrospectively in cases of mistaken identity, where a referee shows a yellow or red card to the wrong player.
The statement emphasised that even though Neymar had suffered a serious injury in the incident - a fractured vertebra - it could not have a bearing on how Zuniga's case should be handled.
"We wish Neymar a prompt and complete recovery as we wish the same for all players who have sadly been ruled out of the World Cup through injury," it added.
Zuniga has apologised for the tackle and insists he had not intended to hurt Neymar. The incident has become the focal point of anger directed at match officials.
Several commentators have criticised the performance of Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo, saying he allowed a climate of physicality to escalate, culminating in Neymar's injury, by failing to sanction players on both sides with yellow cards earlier in the game.
Carballo's performance comes after a sharp fall in the number of yellow cards issued at this year's World Cup.
German newspaper Bild explained the drop by alleging that Fifa's referees' chief Massimo Busacca had told officials to limit cards in order to make the tournament more attractive.
But Fifa spokesman Walter de Gregorio took issue with the report this morning, branding it as "unacceptable".
He said: "There is a story today... that there is a secret plan from Fifa telling the referees not to sanction with yellow or red cards in order to have more entertainment or television shares.
"In other words, Fifa is risking and tolerating that players like Neymar and others are injured. This is just unacceptable."
De Gregorio did not offer any explanation for the drop in cards shown at this tournament.
So far, 168 yellow cards have been issued in 60 matches, an average of 2.8 per match. That contrasts with an average of 3.8 per match in 2010, and 4.8 per game in 2006.
De Gregorio said that he accepted that some referees may have erred.
"This is part of the game and we accept that," he said.
"But what we can't accept is the question on an ethical level, that there is a hidden plan from Fifa.
"This goes into the core business - protecting the main actors, the players, it's the most important thing we have to do at Fifa," De Gregorio said.
"We have to protect the players. If Neymar isn't playing in the semi-final or the final, it's not good for us too."
My heart will be on the field. So will the heart of Neymar.
— Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who will miss tomorrow’s semi-final against Germany due to suspension