Brasilia: Superstar Neymar was ruled out of the Copa America Thursday after tearing his right ankle ligament during Brazil’s 2-0 friendly win over Qatar.
“Due to the seriousness of the injury, Neymar will neither be fit nor have time to recuperate sufficiently to participate” in the tournament, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said in a statement.
The injury to the world’s most expensive footballer is a big blow to the hosts’ preparations for South American continental championship, which begins in just over a week’s time.
A distraught-looking Neymar was seen covering his face with his hands as he sat on the bench after hobbling from the field in the 20th minute at Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha Stadium on Wednesday night.
A large ice pack had been strapped to the Paris Saint-Germain striker’s lower right leg while two members of Brazil’s support staff carried him from the pitch.
The injury comes just nine days before Brazil’s opening Copa America game against Bolivia.
Minutes after Richarlison had opened the scoring in the 17th minute, Neymar was substituted with the CBF saying he had suffered ‘a ligament rupture at the level of the right ankle’.
With Neymar ruled out, the host nation face an uphill battle to win South America’s continental championship for the first time since 2007.