Copa America 2015: Neymar banned for remainder of tournament

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 has now increased the punishment upon reviewing the case.

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.

Meanwhile, reports in the Brazilian media suggest the Barcelona star confronted Chilean referee, Enrique Osses, near the changing rooms after he was ushered down the tunnel by coaching staff.

Conmebol decision also apparently based on fact Neymar chased referee down the tunnel to confront him, and insulted him.

— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) June 19, 2015

Brazil have the right to appeal Neymar’s suspension, a statement on the CONMEBOL website said.

Colombia striker Carlos Bacca was also given a two game ban for shoving Neymar in the back during the incident which spoiled Los Cafeteros’ first victory over Brazil since 1991.

Neymar, who was shackled 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 new coach Carlos Dunga.

It was also a 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.

Both sides have three points from two fixtures in this year’s Copa America and can progress to the next stage Sunday when Brazil face Venezuela and Colombia play Peru.

Yet its fair to say the 2015 Copa America hasn’t been the best tournament for some of South America’s biggest football stars so far.

Before Neymar’s ban, Juventus and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal crashed his Ferrari while allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez didn’t even make the competition owing to his ban from international competition for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at last year’s World Cup.

So, the Copa America has no Suarez, no Neymar. This is like the Back to the Future photo, disappearing one by one. Messi should be worried.

— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) June 20, 2015

However, Vidal did turn out for Chile as it thrashed Bolivia 5-0 in Santiago Friday to qualify for the quarterfinals as winners of Group A.

The tournament hosts will be joined in the quarters by it’s vanquished opponent which qualifies in second place despite the heavy loss thanks to an earlier draw and victory against Mexico and Ecuador respectively.

Ecuador defeated Mexico 2-1 in Friday’s other Group A game.

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