Days after Vinicius Junior pulled out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, it has now been revealed that the 17-year-old did so due to a knee injury he had picked up during the Copa do Brasil final against Cruzeiro. It is not that Flamengo refused to let the player go to India after losing the final to Cruzeiro, as earlier believed.
The development means that the Brazilian U-17 camp will have to endure a nervous wait to see if FIFA will allow them to name a replacement for Vinicius. According to Gregorio Fernandes, the media manager of the Brazil team, the management only found about the injury on Thursday.
FIFA rules stipulate that that a player who is in the 21-member squad named by their federation can only be replaced in case of an injury sustained in the period between the naming of the squad and first day of the tournament. Having found out about the knee injury, Brazil's management scrambled to acquire the x-rays of the player's knee from Flamengo and send them to world football's governing body.
Fernandes revealed that the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) has alerted Sao Paulo forward Helio Junio, who was part of Brazil's 35-member preliminary squad. Since CBF had arranged for visas of all the 35 members, the team should not face any issue sending the forward to India as soon as they got FIFA's nod.
Vinicius backing out of the World Cup had caught even the Brazil team unawares. The 17-year-old, who made headlines earlier this year after Real Madrid forked out €46 million on him, had reportedly told his teammates he was keen to come to India.
"For sure, it would help us if Vinicius was here. But we have many talented players here. We spoke to him after we found out about his injury. We sent him good vibes," Brazil captain Vitao said.
Brazil coach Carlos Amadeu said that the team had many alternatives for the Real Madrid star.
"We have been training for this event for the past two years. In this phase we have had many training camps in Brazil and outside. All of these players, over 50 of them, are used to playing with or without Vinicius. So they are used to playing in our system. We have many alternatives. We have confidence in this bunch of players. We have no reason to not be confident in them," Amadeu said.
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