Juan Camilo Zuñiga

Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

Watford snares physical center back Zuniga from Napoli

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Watford manager Walter Mazzarri has continued his defensive revolution with a big addition from his Serie A stomping grounds.

Coming on loan to the Hertfordshire club is Juan Camilo Zuniga. The 30-year-0ld Napoli defender has 62 caps for Colombia and spent the last half of last season on loan at Bologna.

[ OFFICIAL: Kante joins Chelsea ]

Mazzarri managed Zuniga for four years at Napoli, the final three of which saw Partenopei as one of the Top Five defenses in Serie A. Last season he claimed that forces above the Napoli manager kept him on the sidelines for the first half of the season.

Watford’s problem in their Premier League return was scoring, but Zuniga is a nice addition to the back line (provided he can avoid breaking superstar backs with his knee).

Zuniga offered security after threats received following Neymar foul


Juan Camilo Zuniga has been offered security from the Colombian Football Federation following threats he has received for the foul that resulted in Neymar’s broken vertebrae.

Despite Zuniga’s challenge on the Brazilian star lacking intent, FIFA ruling that he would not be retrospectively punished for the clash, and the 28-year-old Colombian’s sending well-wishes to Neymar for a speedy recovery, it seems some fans are not satisfied and have taken to social media to attack Zuniga.

This behavior, along with select current and ex-players for Brazil calling the tackle “cowardly” and “evil”, has prompted the Colombian Football Federation to issue a media statement condemning the behavior.

From Reuters:

“The Colombian Football Federation rejects all threats and insults against the player Camilo Zuniga and his family,” the national body said in a statement.
“It reiterates it will continue taking all actions with the appropriate security and government organs to give the necessary guarantees to the player, for both his time in Colombia and his permanent residency in Italy.”
Zuniga’s club, Serie A side Napoli, have also expressed solidarity with the player saying he does not deserve the “ferocious criticism” he has received for an “unfortunate … but not malicious” incident.
Zuniga is currently on holiday in Colombia and is due to return to Italy in days.

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


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.