The Brazilian star of Paris Saint-Germain is at the heart of a new controversy in his country.
Rumors of a giant party organized for the end of the year celebrations in Brazil by Neymar in the midst of a pandemic have revived the image of the eternal spoiled child of the Brazilian striker of Paris SG, who seemed to have settled down recently . His entourage vigorously denies the information published by several Brazilian media, but the silence of the player who is used to responding tit for tat on social networks is eloquent.
When a young woman had filed a complaint against him for rape last year – a case that was finally closed – the Brazilian football star did not hesitate to reveal intimate exchanges of messages with his accuser. But this time he is silent, like his main sponsors. Asked by AFP, the sports equipment manufacturer Puma, who had struck a blow in September by snatching it from Nike, refused to speak.
“It would be a lot easier if Neymar went on social media and said he has nothing to do with it. LeBron James, Lewis Hamilton, Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo do not organize any party ”, launched Monday evening Galvao Bueno, historical commentator of TV Globo. Juca Kfouri, another monument of Brazilian sports journalism, went further, speaking of “criminal irresponsibility” on a podcast on the UOL site. “Not only does he have nothing in his head, but he is irresponsible, it is a very bad example for Brazil”, he insisted, recalling that the 28-year-old striker has shown himself to several times alongside far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the importance of the virus.
“Not above the others”
And while Neymar acts as if nothing had happened by posting very wise family photos on Instagram, explosive revelations (never confirmed from an official source) follow one another in the press. Seven-day non-stop rave for 500 guests, purchase of an abandoned hangar to hide helicopters or private VIP jets, pharaonic expenditure of 4 million reais (over 600,000 euros) … Difficult to digest for millions of Brazilians hit hard by the pandemic.
“We are living in a complicated time. Myself, I caught Covid-19 and spent several days in intensive care. He is a big star, but he is not above the others, ”Erika Rodrigues, a 48-year-old lawyer told AFP. And yet, “Ney”, who won in 2019-2020 95.5 million dollars (78 M EUR) according to Forbes magazine, had restored his image three weeks ago, during the Champions League match between PSG and Basaksehir.
Alongside Kylian Mbappé, he had been, among the Parisians, one of the spearheads of the movement of players who decided to leave the field after accusations of racist remarks made by the fourth referee against a member of the Turkish club staff.
“Its image was improving, but it was again severely damaged, as 2020 was one of its best years in a long time,” says sports marketing consultant Erich Beting.
On the pitch, Neymar was very successful, leading PSG to their first Champions League final, and also showing a certain serenity off the pitch, after having long been criticized for his starry whims and theatrical simulations, especially during of the 2018 World Cup.
Despite this new scandal, Erich Beting believes that the striker is unlikely to lose sponsors. “Often the terms of contracts are quite rigid. Even if Neymar’s attitude can be morally reprehensible, he has not committed an offense, ”explains this consultant.
Indeed, the law in force in the State of Rio de Janeiro does not prohibit parties in private residences and the town hall of Mangaratiba, a seaside resort where the player owns a villa and organizes the festivities according to the media, admitted in a press release “not having the power” to intervene.
“The problem with Neymar, who is used to having parties for his birthdays, is that he sends back this idea of a guy above ground”, explains in Paris Jérôme Neveu, founding president of Advent, a consulting company in influencer marketing. “He’s very popular and very popular on the networks, but he’s also quite divisive. There are people who are very fanatic who will forgive him almost everything (…) and on the other hand a party who forgives him nothing and calls him to be exemplary, ”he summarizes.