FIFA disciplinary committee reviewing Juan Camilo Zuñiga’s foul on Neymar

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Carlos Velasco Carballo may not have seen anything egregious about Juan Camilo Zuñiga’s foul on Neymar, but FIFA’s not so sure. After Brazil’s star player was left with a broken vertebra as a result of the Colombian defender’s challenge, the lead referee during yesterday’s World Cup quarterfinal whistled for a foul yet declined to produce a card. Roughly one hour later, Neymar’s tournament was over, with the injury inflicted by Zuniga ruling the Barcelona star out for his country’s final two matches.

Today, FIFA announced that the governing body’s disciplinary committee will investigate the foul, though with Colombia eliminated after yesterday’s 2-1 loss in Fortaleza, Brazil, it’s unclear justice could be brought through a retroactive punishment, though given how much attention’s been paid to the foul, even a symbolic ruling may help.

Here’s a FIFA spokesperson, from reporting by England’s Press Association (published in The Observer/The Guardian):

Fifa’s head of media, Delia Fischer, said: “The disciplinary committee is analysing the matter. The spirit of fair play is very important and we want to avoid difficult things on the field of play.”

In case you missed the incident, it occurred as Neymar settled under a ball coming out of Brazil’s end in the 87th minute. Zuñiga, going in to challenge, jumped through Neymar, lifting his right knee into the base of the Brazilian’s back.

Neymar was eventually taken off the field on a stretcher and to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with be broken third vertebra. The injury will not require surgery, but the recuperation time means the 22-year-old will miss the semifinal and either Brazil’s third place game or the tournament’s final.

In GIF form:

So what can the disciplinary committee do? According to section 77 of FIFA’s Disciplinary Code:

The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for:

a) sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention;
b) rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions;
c) extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art 18, par. 4);
d) pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.

There is room for more than a fine, however. Section 78:

78 Jurisdiction of the chairman ruling alone

1. The chairman of the Disciplinary Committee may take the following decisions alone:
a) suspend a person for up to three matches or for up to two months;
b) pronounce a fine of up to CHF 50,000;
c) rule on extending a sanction (art. 136);
d) settle disputes arising from objections to members of the Disciplinary Committee;
e) pronounce, alter and annul provisional measures (cf. art. 129).

So there is a mechanism to punch Zuñiga. Whether he should be punished, we can pick up in another post.

Regardless, according to the organization, FIFA will bring its disciplinary committee into play. Zuñiga’s foul may yet earn more than a mere whistle.

Premier League vet Kenwyne Jones retires at age 33

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It wasn’t the season that Kenwyne Jones had expected in his first Major League Soccer season, but the veteran Trinidad & Tobago striker had himself quite the career.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

Jones, 33, announced his retirement on Monday after boasting an extensive career in England prior to finishing up his playing with Atlanta United.

Atlanta opted not to renew Jones’ contract with the club after scoring twice in 17 appearances this season for the expansion side.

The Trinidadian posted the following message to supporters on Twitter this afternoon.

Jones spent nine seasons in the Premier League, including stints with Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland.

Additionally, the forward played for Al Jazira from UAE in 2016 before moving on loan to Central in his native Trinidad prior to his arrival in Atlanta’s debut MLS season.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.