Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has slammed soccer star Neymar’s support for far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing the player of being motivated by a debt “pardon”.
Last month, Neymar backed hardline conservative Bolsonaro as he battles for re-election in his October 30 battle against former left-wing leader Lula.
“Neymar has the right to choose who he wants to be president. I think he’s afraid that if I win the election I’ll find out what Bolsonaro pardoned from his income tax debt,” Lula said in a statement. interview on YouTube on Tuesday.
“I think that’s why he’s afraid of me,” added Lula with a laugh when asked about Neymar’s support for the president.
Expectations of a close competition prompted both sides to step up their attacks ahead of the second round, with Lula the favorite after the first round of the Oct. 2 election.
“Obviously Bolsonaro made a deal with [Neymar’s] dad. He now has an income tax problem in Spain,” Lula said, referring to a favorable ruling the player won in a tax evasion trial in Brazil, as well as the charges he faces to Barcelona for alleged irregularities during his transfer from the club in 2013.
The leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) added that this was ultimately a problem for the country’s tax collection agency, and not for him.
This week, Lula got the support of another footballing legend. Former Brazilian player and Paris Saint-Germain star Rai gave a silent shoutout to Lula at a gala ceremony in Paris, mentioning his country’s elections before flashing an “L” with his right hand.
Lula has 53% of the vote before the second round on October 30, against 47% for Bolsonaro, according to a poll published Friday by the Datafolha institute.
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