RIO DE JANEIRO: Romario, former World Cup-winner who is now a senator leading an inquiry in the Brazilian football federation, has assessed Neymar’s World Cup ban as the result of Marco Polo Del Nero’s refusal to leave the country for fear of arrest.

Neymar’s punishment, imposed after a red card during the Copa America in Chile, means he will miss the opening two matches of Brazil’s World Cup qualifing campaign. An appeal has been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Romario blamed the severity of the punishment of the non-attendance in Chile of Brazilian confederation president Del Nero and thus his inability to defend the player before a CONMEBOL disciplinary tribunal.

Del Nero has refused to travel beyond Brazil for fear of arrest in the FIFAGate scandal. Brazilian citizens cannot be extradited.

Romario said: “He doesn’t travel abroad because he’s scared of getting arrested for his possible involvement in the FIFA scandal.”

Del Nero missed FIFA Congress and the last three executive committee meetings as well as a meeting of the Olympic football committee of which he is supposed to be chairman.

Neymar was handed a four-match ban after the Copa América group-stage game against Colombia for a scuffle with the opposing players and insulting the referee after the final whistle.

He missed Brazil’s next two Copa matches and was thusl left to serve the remaining two games of the ban in the next competition – which happened to the World Cup qualifying competition in which Brazil must face Chile and Venezuela.

Neymar and his family have also had property and financial assests frozen by the Brazilian courts over tax evasion allegations.