BRAZIL IS COUNTING the loss of their 2014 Fifa World Cup poster boy Neymar, who is going to miss the rest of the tournament because of a back injury he sustained during the quarterfinal clash against Colombia on Friday.
Images of him being carried on a stretcher in pain into a waiting ambulance filled the TV screens and his story topped every news broadcast Friday evening. Front pages of most news papers carried images of him on Saturday, and the mood was so somber.
His loss for Tuesday’s semi-final clash against Germany, and if they progress to the final, he will also be out of that as well, is being treated like a national tragedy. Neymar is the star player for this soccer-mad nation and his absence with a partially broken vertebrae due to a reckless challenge from behind by Colombia midfielder Juan Zuniga in the 87th minute, has left Brazilians in tatters. Even non-Brazilians were left in shock by the injury, which some believe was deliberate and aimed at taking him out--that is the sort of mood everywhere here.
Many believe his absence will greatly affect their hopes of winning a sixth world title, while others still hope that other players can fill his void.
“Neymar is a big loss, but he wasn’t playing alone, we have players who can take his place and still perform well, his injury could happen to any player for any team, Brazil will always be strong without one individual player,” says Miriam, a 50-year old mother of two.
She added, “As a month, I feel sorry for for him because he is just a young boy, who is doing his job for his country, and it’s unfortunate that he won’t be able to help his team to win the world cup.”
Miriam’s sentiments are shared by millions of Brazilians, some of whom flocked the hospital in Fortaleza, where the 22-year old Barcelona forward was being treated.
Neymar’s injury overshadowed Brazil’s gritty 2-1 win over Colombia, and as if that is not enough, the Samba Boys will also be without their inspirational captain Tiago Silva, scorer of the the first goal, but will be suspended against Germany.
You don’t have to interview to hundreds of fans to gauge Neymar’s loss for Brazil but talking to a few people, you get the same narrative coming back you.