WORLD CUP USA ’94: ROUND OF 16 : Leonardo Says Elbow Wasn’t Intentional : Brazil: He apologizes to Ramos but might have to sit out rest of tournament.
Brazilian defender Leonardo was the villain of the 1-0 victory Monday at Stanford Stadium over the United States, but the remorseful man who spoke to reporters after practice here Tuesday was bearing a message of anti-violence.
Although his punishment has yet to be determined, Leonardo, 24, said he expects FIFA to suspend him for the rest of the World Cup tournament. He was banished from Monday’s game for slinging an elbow that fractured a bone in Tab Ramos’ skull.
But Leonardo said he was not as concerned about himself as he was about Ramos. Leonardo visited him for 15 minutes Monday night at the Stanford University Medical Center, where the U.S. midfielder was held overnight for observation. Ramos was released Tuesday.
“I got from him all anybody could hope for,” said Leonardo, who spoke with Ramos in English but made his remarks to reporters Tuesday in his native Portuguese. “He not only accepted my apology, he wished me luck in my career.”
But Leonardo said the incident still weighs on his conscience.
“I am devastated by what happened,” he said. “I watched the video later, and it looked intentional. It gives a horrible impression. But I tell you from the depths of my heart that I had no intention of hurting him.
“He was holding me, and I wanted to get free. Three or four times, people were holding me. I was frustrated. But nothing justifies hitting another player.
“When I swung my arm, he was falling. If he hadn’t been, I don’t think my elbow would have hit him. It was the worst part of his face to hit. I didn’t realize how badly I had hurt him until I saw the reaction of the other American players.
“I would like for them to know how sorry I am in my heart and my head. Violence doesn’t have a place on the soccer field.”
Until he was ejected with a red card in the 44th minute Monday, Leonardo had played every minute of this World Cup at left defender for Brazil. Although he does not advance as often or as deep as Jorginho, his counterpart on the right, Leonardo is skilled enough with the ball that some of Brazil’s followers, including Pele, have suggested he be moved into the midfield to help solve the team’s problems there.
Brazil Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Tuesday that he has not decided who will replace Leonardo in Saturday’s quarterfinal game against the Netherlands in Dallas.
Leonardo is required to sit out at least one game because of his red card, but Parreira said he was told that FIFA President Joao Havelange, a Brazilian, revealed in an interview the suspension would cover the rest of Brazil’s tournament games.