New Delhi: Brazil’s former two-time president and presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has accused soccer star Neymar Junior of striking a deal with far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro to support him for the upcoming general election in return to “pardon” the footballer’s tax debt.
In an interview with a YouTube channel Tuesday, the leftist former president, famously known colloquially as Lula, took a jibe at the Paris Saint-Germain star for his support to Bolsanaro and said that “he’s scared of me”.
“Neymar has the right to choose who he wants as president. I think he is afraid that if I win the election, I will find out what Bolsonaro forgave him (about) his income tax debt. I think that’s why he’s afraid of me,” Lula said in the interview.
Referring to the alleged ‘fraud and corruption’ trial that the PSG striker is facing over his transfer from Brazilian club Santos to Barcelona in 2013, Lula accused Bolsonaro of “putting together a deal” with Neymar’s father.
“It is obvious that Bolsonaro made an agreement with the father (of Neymar). Now he has tax problems in Spain. But it’s a problem which concerns the tax collection agency, not mine,” he added.
‘Vote, vote, and press’
It had all started with a TikTok video of Neymar singing Bolsonaro’s campaign jingle in which he lip syncs, “Vote, vote, and press ‘confirm’ for 22, that’s Bolsonaro,” referring to the Brazil president’s official ballot number.
Earlier in September, Bolsonaro had enlisted the help of Neymar on a campaign stop, just four days before the country’s general elections
The two have struck quite an alliance as Bolsonaro, who is running for a second term, even visited the soccer star’s non-profit organisation, the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr., located in the city of Praia Grande in Brazil. A video of the President touring the institute was posted on their official Twitter handle.
Que tal dar uma olhada em como foi a visita do Presidente da República do Brasil @jairbolsonaro no Instituto?#institutoneymarjr #institutonjr #neymarjr #njr #brasil pic.twitter.com/K3M8174KQB
— Instituto Neymar Jr (@InstitutoNJr) September 28, 2022
Since then, the friendship between the two of them has made a few headlines, and Neymar has also drawn plenty of criticism.
Following the flak, the Brazilian football star took to Twitter to defend himself and called out the people who criticised him for endorsing hardline conservative Bolsonaro.
“They talk about democracy and a lot of things, but when someone has a different opinion, they are attacked by the very people who talk about democracy. Go fathom,” Neymar wrote in his post.
Falam em democracia e um montão de coisa, mas quando alguém tem um opinião diferente é atacado pelas próprias pessoas que falam em democracia. Vai entender 😂🤷🏽♂️
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) September 30, 2022
Lula, who was the president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, has received the backing of retired World Cup-winning Brazilian football legend Rai, who gave him a silent shout-out at an award event in Paris, mentioning his country’s elections before flashing an “L” sign with his right hand.
Brazil will have a second and final round of presidential elections between Bolsonaro and Lula on 30 October.
Also read: Brazilian football is self-destructing — wasted talent, trophy drought, blunders aplenty
Source: The Print