Mascherano believes Neymar was kicked out of Copa America

Santiago, June 20 (IANS) Seasoned Argentine defender Javier Mascherano on Saturday said Brazil skipper Neymar was kicked out of the Copa America after the latter was suspended for four games in a decision by the South American football governing body, CONMEBOL.

The decision on Neymar came on Friday following his red card during Brazil’s 0-1 loss to Colombia. The sanction means Neymar will not feature in the remainder of the tournament and Argentina midfielder Mascherano says his Barcelona teammate has been once again let down by match officials.

“Things like this happen in South American football and even more so in the Copa America, where it’s difficult for players like him because you get more protection in Europe,” Mascherano was quoted as saying by

“Neymar was kicked 20 times (by rival defenders), yet he was shown a yellow card for one handball. These type of talented players aren’t allowed to play. The tackles are getting worse in the tournament. It depends on what the referees and organisations want to do about it,” the Argentina vice-captain added.

“We must do more to protect these players. He was kicked 20 times! This affects your head. Don’t forget that Neymar is Neymar, he’s only a boy of 23 years. Brazil have lost a lot.”

Neymar, 23, was sent off after he kicked a ball at defender Pablo Armero before aiming a head-butt at Jeison Murillo after the final whistle.

He was originally handed a one-match ban before receiving an additional three-game suspension for verbally abusing the match official. He has also been fined $10,000

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