In the 87th minute, Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga drove his right knee into Neymar's lower back while leaping to attempt to head the ball. The Brazil forward dropped to the field in pain after the contact. The 22-year-old star was soon loaded onto a stretcher and taken immediately down the tunnel away from the field.
Not long after the final whistle sounded on Brazil's 2-1 win, ESPN's post-game coverage returned to Fortaleza for a report from the commentators who had called the action.
"A bit of news just starting to reach us is that Neymar has been taken straight to hospital and the Brazilian media are saying it doesn't look good at the moment," ESPN commentator Ian Darke said. "He was taken off on a stretcher."
ESPN soccer columnist Jeff Carlisle also reported he had heard that Neymar had been taken to a hospital.
MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil's team doctor says Neymar will miss the rest of the World Cup after breaking a vertebrae during the team's quarterfinal win over Colombia.
Neymar was kneed in the back by Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga in the second half of Brazil's 2-1 win, and was in tears when he was carried off the field on a stretcher.
He was taken to a local clinic and team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said after the match that the star striker had broken his third vertebrae.
Neymar is the Brazil's biggest star and has scored four goals for the team so far in the tournament.
Brazil plays Germany in the semifinals on Tuesday.