Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga has received death threats following the devastating challenge he made on Brazil playmaker Neymar in the World Cup, leaving his father fearing for the safety of his son and family.
Zuniga ended Neymar’s World Cup dreams at quarter-final stage by committing a shocking challenge in which it appeared that the Colombian jumped up and thrust his knee into the Brazilian’s back.
The 22-year-old was taken off the pitch in agony on a stretcher and shortly after it was announced that Neymar had suffered a broken vertebra which – much to the horror of Brazil fans – would see him absent from the remainder of the tournament.
Although Zuniga was later cleared of any deliberate wrong-doing, some of Neymar’s fanatical supporters did not see it that way a number of individuals have since launched attacks against the defender via email and telephone, some of which have been particularly sinister.
The Colombian’s father was so alarmed by the messages along with the fact his son has had to employ bodyguards, he has spoken to Brazilian media outlet Lancenet to explain the anguish the Zuniga family are experiencing.
In his message he conveyed a plea to his son’s haters, urging them to move on and leave his family alone.
“We heard nasty comments and threats by phone and email,” he said, “they are crazy and rude messages.
“As a parent I am worried, but not only for him, but his wife and daughter, I hope that the dust will settle and we can all move on.
“Neymar has acquitted him of responsibility so my boy was not at fault. He is not violent and has no past history of nasty moves.
“What happened to Neymar happens to all players, injuries are part of football.”
Neymar is still receiving treatment in Brazil following his injury and is expected to return to his club Barcelona next month where he will commence training in preparation for the brand new football season.