Paris Saint Germain coach Unai Emery has called for referees to better protect marquee players after Brazilian superstar Neymar was sent off in a 2-2 draw in their bitter grudge match with Marseille on Sunday.
Neymar was not only constantly harried and niggled by a series of fouls in the game, but also pelted by Stade Velodrome fans with coins and even lighters whilst taking corners. The former Barcelona star eventually lost his cool and was sent off for two yellow cards late on, both for retaliation with him appearing to aim a headbutt at Marseille’s Argentine striker Lucas Ocampos.
“We are a bit disappointed by the sending off because he was fouled a great deal during the game,” said Emery. “He suffered four serious fouls from our opponents which continued and continued and continued,” said Emery, insisting the world’s most expensive player had been provoked throughout the match.
Neymar had been excellent for PSG scoring a cool-headed equaliser and looking every inch a big game player until his rush of blood to the head and the red card with his side 2-1 down in the 88th minute.
“I believe the referee should have had a good think about it. We need to protect the great players,” said Emery. “Those yellow cards were not fair on Neymar, he’s a man who wants to play. He hasn’t been battered here, but if he gets that treatment every game…” Emery said of the 25-year-old who joined PSG for a world-record 222 million euros in the close season. “It’s up to all of us to protect the big players, on both sides, because (Dimitri) Payet is also a good player,” said Emery in reference to the Marseille playmaker.