RIO DE JANEIRO: It will be no consolation to Neymar and other injured players, but there has been a 40% reduction in the number of both minor and serious injuries at the World Cup compared to previous tournaments, said Fifa on Friday.
The reasons for that, according to Fifa’s medical committee, is because there is now less contact between players than there was in previous finals and tougher sanctions for fouls that lead to injuries.
A total of 95 injuries have been recorded in the competition so far, with seven ‘severe’ injuries including Brazilian forward Neymar’s broken vertebra and Mexican defender Hector Moreno’s broken leg.
Injuries are deemed ‘severe’ if they sideline the player for four weeks or more.
In a statement on Friday, Fifa’s chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak, said, “The medical committee believes there is less contact and fouls, more sanctions for fouls that cause injuries, and continuous improvements by referees from 1990 onwards in terms of education and fair play.”
Statistically speaking, he said, “In 1998 and 2002 there were 2.7% injuries per game and now we are down to 1.6.”
Fifa’s head of refereeing Massimo Busacca said the reduction was thanks to a more flexible approach by match officials and cooperation from the players.
“We have had a lot of cooperation and respect from players,” he told reporters. “In general, we’ve had a lot of respect, and that is the message we have to give around the world.
“The refereeing decisions were accepted, we saw the players accepting and understanding the referees. This is what has been done for the beginning, preventing and talking to the players.
“You cannot be a policeman and give red and yellow cards all the time, you can reduce the fouls with communication,” he said, referring to the foul-ridden quarter-final between Brazil and Colombia.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2014.