Copa América: Brazil boss slams ref for booking Vinícius Jr.

Brazil manager Dorival Junior criticised the decision to book Vinícius Júnior during their 1-1 Copa América draw with Colombia on Tuesday, which will see the Real Madrid forward miss his team’s quarterfinal clash with Uruguay.

Winger Raphinha put Brazil ahead in the 12th minute in Santa Clara, California, before Daniel Muñoz levelled before half-time, for a result which saw Colombia top Group D ahead of Brazil in second.

Brazil will now play contenders Uruguay in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, while Colombia have a theoretically easier tie with Panama.

Vinicius was handed a yellow card for appearing to strike Colombia’s James Rodríguez early in the match, and now faces a one-game suspension after picking up two cards in the group stage.

”It’s a situation that happened in the game,” Dorival Junior said when asked about Vinícius’ booking. “In the first move, which was accidental for me, he ended up getting the first card. Everything that happened was very strange.

“Recently I heard that Brazil had to learn to play without their big players. I think it’s time … Vini happens to be out, and unfortunately we lost Neymar [to injury before the tournament]. We have to learn that at times, others will have to appear. We’ll have a difficult game against Uruguay.”

“Vini is a top player who can win games for us,” full-back Danilo added. “But we have other players with a lot of quality and potential, and let’s try to make up for Vini’s absence.”

Brazil were also unhappy with referee Jesus Valenzuela’s failure to award them a penalty for Muñoz’s challenge on Vinícius inside the box before half-time, five minutes before the Colombia defender made it 1-1.

“At that moment, it would have been 2-0,” Dorival Junior said. “With the speed we have, the team we have, a scoreline of 2-0 is very different to 1-0. For me, it was decisive.

“Especially because inside the stadium, only he [the referee] and the VAR team didn’t see the penalty. Brazil were once again put at a disadvantage.”

Brazil have been unhappy with various aspects of the competition’s organisation so far, with Vinícius outspoken in his criticism of officials, playing conditions and organisers CONMEBOL.

“The Copa America is always difficult because of the pitches, because of the referees — who always go against us — and because of the way CONMEBOL treats people,” Vinícius said after Brazil’s 4-1 group win over Paraguay. “It’s always difficult, but we have to stay strong. We can only talk by winning. When we talk, CONMEBOL say we talk too much.”