B.Neymar was the man of the game in a 2-0 win against Paraguay, but the football superstar also took on a leading role off the pitch. Together with national team captain Casemiro and Marquinhos, the 29-year-old is said to be one of the heads behind the appeal against the Copa America in Brazil, according to the newspaper “Folha de S. Paulo”.
In it they criticized, but also confirmed their participation. “We are against the organization of the Copa America, but we will never say no to the Brazilian national team,” it said. But at first it was not at all sure whether the tournament would even be allowed to take place in Brazil. Neymar leads the Seleção squad for the Copa America, named by national coach Tite on Wednesday evening (local time). It consists largely of the players around Brazil’s number ten, who were also nominated for the World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay.
However, the Brazilian Socialist Party and a metalworkers union had filed motions with the Supreme Court to cancel the tournament. They argue that Brazil should not host international sporting events as long as social distancing measures are required due to the corona pandemic. It was the latest turn in around two turbulent weeks for the Seleção and superstar Neymar.
Turbulence around Neymar
As soon as he arrived at the training camp in Teresópolis, the “Wall Street Journal” reported that Nike had terminated the partnership with Neymar last year after serious allegations against the Brazilian. The 29-year-old was accused of not cooperating in an investigation, which he described as an “absolute lie”. According to Nike, a company employee has accused Neymar of sexual assault. Neymar has rejected the allegations, as his spokeswoman announced on dpa request. The collaboration with Nike was prematurely terminated for business reasons.
His colleagues Felipe and Emerson were asked about this at the Seleção’s first press conference. They evaded, referring to the “personal matter” for Neymar; National coach Tite did not want to delve deeper into the subject either. Neymar didn’t speak at all. He left answers to the allegations to the lawyers – and his father, who has been looking after Neymar and his career since he was young.
The turmoil surrounding Neymar was soon overshadowed by the turmoil surrounding the Copa America and the crisis in the Brazilian football association CBF. Argentina, which is particularly suffering from the second Corona wave, withdrew as hosts; Brazil, itself a corona hotspot, took over. The criticism was severe. South American club competitions such as the Copa Libertadores and the South American Championship are supposed to take place without an audience, the South American football association Conmebol vaccinated thousands of athletes. The players are only allowed to leave the hotel for training or for health reasons.
A debate about participation flared up in the Brazilian national team. According to the sports portal “Globoesporte” and “Folha”, Neymar has also contacted leading players from other teams. They did not come to a common line, also because a boycott of the tournament is not as easy for other selection players as it is for the most expensive player in the world, who recently extended Paris Saint-Germain to mid-2025. Especially those who are under contract in South America see the Copa as a showcase.
This can now also be carried out after a court decision. The eleven judges of the STF Supreme Court in Brasília voted unanimously on Thursday (local time), as the court announced. The court transferred appropriate powers to municipalities and states, which can decide against the event in their respective areas of responsibility. This is unlikely, however, as the governors of the four states with the Copa América venues are allies of President and Copa supporter Bolsonaro.
If the decision is not appealed, Brazil can play against Venezuela on Sunday at the start of the tournament in Brasília. Sergio Córdova from Arminia Bielefeld is also in the squad for Venezuela. The Supreme Court rejected two motions that challenged the event. They cited the threat to public health and the spread of the coronavirus as reasons for rejecting the tournament in their country. On Wednesday, Brazil, a state with a population of 210 million, registered 2,693 deaths in connection with Covid-19 within 24 hours – more than since May 5.
A few weeks before the start of the tournament, first Colombia and then Argentina dropped out as the host. In Colombia there have been bloody protests against the government for weeks, Argentina was hit hard by the second wave of the corona pandemic. The South American Football Association Conmebol then moved the South American Championship to Brazil, which led to widespread criticism.