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Colombia defender apologizes for injuring Neymar

Juan Camilo Zuniga kneed Neymar during the World Cup quarterfinal match between Colombia and Brazil. Neymar suffered a broken vertebra and will not be able to play in the rest of the competition.

AP

Juan Camilo Zuniga kneed Neymar during the World Cup quarterfinal match between Colombia and Brazil. Neymar suffered a broken vertebra and will not be able to play in the rest of the competition.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga has sent a letter of apology to Neymar, saying he is ‘‘deeply sorry and sad’’ for causing the injury that knocked the Brazil striker out of the World Cup.

‘‘Although I feel the situation was normal in a game, there was no bad intention, malice or negligence on my part,’’ Zuniga said Saturday in a statement released by the Colombian team.

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Neymar, Brazil’s key player at the World Cup, fractured a vertebra in his back late in Friday’s 2-1 quarterfinal win and is expected to be sidelined for four weeks. Brazil plays Germany in a World Cup semifinal on Tuesday.

‘‘I admire you, respect you and consider you one of the best players in the world,’’ Zuniga wrote. ‘‘I hope you recover and return quickly.’’

Brazil great Ronaldo told a news conference Saturday that he thought ‘‘the injury was a very violent one,’’ and added: ‘‘We could see on television there was an intention by the Colombia player to actually cause some harm.’’

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Zuniga addressed part of his letter to Brazilian fans, many of whom have expressed anger at the Colombian and suggested he intended to injure Neymar.

‘‘I send you (fans) a special message of thanks for all the support you showed to the Colombian team during every one of our games.’’

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