Brazil will begin their World Cup campaign on Thursday against Serbia with their eyes firmly on the big prize. Tite’s side have been playing well, scoring goals and are packed with talent. However according to Juninho Pernambucano, capped 40 times for the Selecao himself, the biggest gaps are at home.
Writing for The Guardian, the former Lyon midfielder assessed his nation’s chances at the tournament, but also how Brazil were being viewed at home.
Included in that was the recent political divide. The largest country in Latin America was polarised by the recent election in the country between left-wing candidate Lula da Silva and far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
Several footballers took part in the process of polarisation, including Dani Alves, but most notably Neymar Junior. The Paris Saint-Germain footballer promoted Bolsonaro on numerous occasions on social media and expressed sadness when his defeat was declared. This was Juninho’s cutting view on Neymar’s role in the division of Brazil.
“Brazilians have had to watch as the national team’s captain and star player, Neymar, turned his back on the more than 30 million hungry Brazilians and the 120 million who live on the cusp of food insecurity and backed Bolsonaro as part of a supposed fight against a non‑existent communist threat.”
“Having had such success, the former Santos player with the humble background has clearly lost touch with his roots, as well as the plight and needs of the majority of the population that will cheer for him during the World Cup. It is a sad state of affairs.”
Needless to say, if Neymar provides the magic to win the World Cup, any doubts or reticence towards him will be forgiven and forgotten. However in the even he does not, half of the country will remember him with a black mark next to his name.