WORLD 2022, Before Brazil – Serbia: Neymar, divisive leader

Hey Neymar, you will have to declare yourself This is one of the songs taken up in chorus by Lula fans after the victory of their champion in the Brazilian presidential election. Less than a month later, the PSG star finds himself in Qatar as the spearhead of an Auriverde selection eager to win its sixth planetary title. “He is ready, we are extremely happy with the level of Neymar”, a CV his coach Tite in September.

On this level, there is no debate. Ney has regained his former form. Sparkling in the colors of PSG with which he has scored 15 goals and delivered 12 assists since the start of the season, the No.10 and master of the game of the “Seleçao” arrives in full swing as illustrated by his eight goals in ten matches in the South American qualifiers. “The technical performance of extraordinary athletes and professionals is linked to their speed of thought and execution. Speed ​​and execution need to be in sync, and in his case, they are. currently he is flyinge”, rejoiced the Brazilian coach Tite in September. Since then, it still holds.

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The problem is actually elsewhere. Neymar has become a divisive character in Brazil. And his support in the last election for Jair Bolsonaro – the far-right ex-president whose four years in office made Brazil more divided than ever – is at the heart of this observation. “Neymar has the right to choose whoever he wants as president. But I think he is afraid that if I win the election, I will know what Bolsonaro forgave him (about) his income tax debt. I think that’s why he’s afraid of me“, had even launched Lula before his election, placing this controversial support a little further in the light.

A few weeks later, nothing has been forgotten. “We cannot talk about Neymar without analyzing the Brazilian political landscape in generall, explains Alexandre Guariglia, Brazilian reporter who follows the “Seleçao” for the daily LANCE. Brazil is politically divided, almost 50% for each side, anyone who takes a stand will divide opinions, especially Neymar, who is an extremely important figure. I think he would divide opinions even if he had declared his support for Lula. Any subject in the political and ideological field would have caused this division.

Even football can’t get everyone on the same page

If his choice to take a stand for Jair Bolsonaro is still obviously on everyone’s mind, the concern is that this is not the first time that Neymar has made the news for a hot topic other than football. He has also seen his name cited in a case on allegations of sexual violence or for suspicions of irregularities concerning his transfer from Santos to Barcelona. The gray areas are now even legion on the case of the one who was expected by a whole people at the 2014 World Cup before his terrible injury. But the Bolsonaro episode made it even more divisive in the Brazilian population. “Nowadays in Brazil it is impossible to please everyone, we are such a polarized countryadds Alexandre Guariglia. Even football, a national passion, cannot get everyone on the same page. Some will even encourage other selections because of Neymar and his behavior, or for his political opinions.”

Neymar seems to ignore these tensions. He is focused. Eager to really put his name into the legend of Auriverde football by bringing back that much desired sixth star for 20 years now. “Despite all these extra-sporting worries, Brazilian fans expect a lot from Neymar from the moment he seems 100% physically, fitter than in 2018 when he was injured, and more mature than in 2014 when he had so many of responsibilities because the team was so dependent on him“, confirms Alexandre Guariglia. And a successful World Cup will silence some criticism in the country on a leader so talented and who gave so many hopes to Auriverde fans but who currently only has a 2013 Confederations Cup and a title. Olympic in 2016 on his list of selections.

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