Brazilian legend Ronaldo openly condemned the tackle that took out fellow Brazilian Neymar out of the World Cup and called the move evil and violent.
A FIFA press conference was held last Saturday with Ronaldo alongside fellow World Cup winners. He was joined by former Italian national team captain Fabio Cannavarro and former German national team captain Lothar Matthaeus. The three players were there to share their insights about the upcoming semi-finals and the tournament so far.
Ronaldo addressed the incident involving Neymar and the tackle made by Colombian player Juan Zuniga that resulted in a broken vertebra on Neymar's back which will sideline him for approximately 45 days.
"It was a very violent, unlawful tackle. 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." he said.
The incident happened in the closing minutes of Brazil's quarterfinal match against Colombia which was a very physical match. Zuniga was seen in the air with his knee connecting with Neymar's back as the Brazilian waited for an oncoming ball. Neymar then fell to the ground but play continued towards the other end of the pitch and it took several moments before Marcelo, Neymar's teammate leaned over him and wildly gestured to the referee to halt play.
Zuniga was never booked for the incident which led to criticism towards the Spanish referee, Carlos Velasco Carballo. There were a total of 54 fouls committed in the game with only 2 yellow cards handed out for each team in a match that was riddled with moves and tackles that were pushing the rules to the limit.
"We all have to fight for football to have more fair play. We have to demand that sanctions be given to violent players." said Ronaldo.
The other two World Cup winners in the conference, Cannavarro and Matthaeus also expressed their support for Neymar and their condemnation of the tackle.
"I didn't like that high knee. It was a foul with intention to cause harm." said Cannavarro who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 following another violent incident on the pitch. Zinedine Zidane of France was given a red card after head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi during the final.
Matthaeus knows that people now think Germany have an advantage going into the semi-final against Brazil with Neymar out of the competition. He states that the German team are not looking at the incident as a fortunate turn of events for them but instead, they are offering their support to the young striker.
"We have tears in our eyes when we see the image of Neymar yesterday and heard the information about his injury." he said.