Brazilian football superstar Neymar was forced to back down on Friday after facing harsh criticism for publicly endorsing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro just days before a divisive election.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
On Thursday, the 30-year-old footballer posted a video on TikTok – where he has over eight million followers – of himself bopping to a pro-Bolsonaro campaign song while wearing a big grin.
He flashed the number 22 – Bolsonaro’s candidate number in his election showdown with leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is leading in the polls.
“Vote, vote, and press ‘confirm’ for 22, that’s Bolsonaro,” the song says, referring to Brazil’s electronic voting machines, which the president claims, without providing evidence, are rife with fraud.
Bolsonaro wasted no time in retweeting Neymar’s approval.
However, many other social media users were outraged by Neymar’s use of his celebrity in this manner.
He has nearly 180 million Instagram followers and 58 million Twitter followers.
Former Brazilian striker Walter Casagrande was among his detractors, writing in a column for UOL Esporte that Neymar had “revealed all his incoherence… and his lack of social awareness.”
He chastised Neymar, who had previously spoken out in support of anti-racism efforts, for endorsing “the most prejudiced candidate in Brazilian political history, who has made homophobic, sexist, and notoriously racist statements.”
“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,” Neymar responded on Twitter on Friday.
His tweet concluded with emojis of laughing and shrugging.
Bolsonaro supporters have adopted the yellow-and-green jersey of Brazil’s national team, as well as the Brazilian flag, as a symbol of support for the president.
Both Neymar and Bolsonaro are open about their faith.