Why Brazil election could impact Neymar, Tite, World Cup

In less than three weeks, Brazil, the football team, travels to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar among the favorites to win it all. Not only do they stand at the top of the FIFA standings, but they have lost just two games in the last six years and they are proud of their combination of veterans. And the youth, led by coach Tite, a national hero. And star Neymar, who is likely to break Pele’s record as the nation’s all-time international scorer in Qatar or soon.

On Sunday, Brazil went to the polls in a bitter referendum by former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva known as Lula against President Jair Bolsonaro. Even by the usual contradictory Brazilian political standards, this has become a fierce and sometimes fierce rivalry that divides the nation.

It is a remarkable match of milestones in Brazilian life. Neymar has shown his support for Bolsonaro by appearing on the president’s YouTube channel and posting a video on social media – Paris Saint-Germain has more than 180 million followers on Instagram alone – supporting the president Is in power. While he is not the only member of Brazil’s Selecao who supports him, very few have made it public and no one can match his popularity and popularity. This even prompted Bolsonaro rival Lula to suggest that the current president sign an agreement with Neymar and his father to waive some income tax debts in exchange for his consent.

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We are in uncharted territory here: One of the two presidential candidates is accusing the country’s biggest star of effectively selling his political support to his rivals. He was on the eve of the World Cup. But it does not end there.

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Brazil coach Tite, while not naming Neymar, lamented the “politics” of the national team. The oblique mention to Bolsonaro fans, who mostly show up in collections in the famous green and gold shirts, is hard to miss. He also reiterated that he would not face Bolsonaro, either before Brazil’s World Cup pass, and not later, despite his return from Qatar.

If Brazil becomes a world champion and Tite, as a coach, does not travel to Brasilia to meet the president, he will violate the tradition that dates back to 1958, when they won the World Cup for the first time. The first of their five matches. It equates to a Super Bowl winner who rejects an invitation to the White House with the added frustration that a Super Bowl winner is part of a 32-person monopoly. Selecao is the football representative of Brazil’s 214 million people and Bolsonaro will be president even though he has lost since his term did not end until December 31, two weeks after the last World Cup.

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There is a history of tensions between Tite and Bolsonaro. In 2019, when Brazil won the Copa America and Bolsonaro presented medals to players and staff, Tite offered a handshake with the president only before walking away. Two years later, he criticized Bolsonaro for insisting that Brazil host the tournament again with short notice and in the midst of the Kovid-19 outbreak. But Tite insists it is a matter of principle, saying he will not celebrate winning the World Cup with Lula.

“My views have not changed,” he said. “I see the Brazilian national team as part of our common cultural and sporting heritage … It’s beautiful, it goes through everything … it is our voice as a nation. Brazil. “

We are accustomed to athletes who take a stand on social issues, but full political consent like Neymar has given Bolsonaro is still rare, at least among those who remain active. Part of it may be related to Michael Jordan’s quote, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” Part of it can be a real perception that if you represent a group or region (less than the country as a whole) that could misrepresent that exclusive part of that city / region / country. However, Brazil, as a country, will enter their biggest sporting event in the last four years, which still has traces of a brutal presidential race. And to some extent – due to the public position taken by Tite and Neymar – there is a legitimate fear that they will extend to the national team, which so far has not only been successful, but a sign of unity and love. National, too. .

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The irony is that during his six-year tenure, Tite worked diligently with Brazil, ensuring that egos were monitored at the entrance to the locker room and that Selecao was the real unit. Play with the spirit of the club team. Rather than just a collection of the country’s best footballers. Sure, it’s easier to stay united when you succeed, but even during Brazil’s rare period, they dropped out of the 2018 World Cup in the quarter-finals and lost. The 2021 Copa America final, they managed extensively to avoid discrimination. The division and pointing of the fingers, which often arises from national frustration.

Now the question is how politics broke the bonds and resolved the balance that brought Brazil under Tite power. No matter how different the stars (Neymar) and coach (Tite) have different views on Bolsonaro, spoil what is likely to be the last World Cup for both men.

Two hundred and fourteen million Brazilians hope it does not happen, praying that the difference is purely skinned or will be left alone in Qatar. Politics cannot be allowed to violate and disrupt the country’s quest for a sixth World Cup.

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