Neymar’s critics were on point after all.
The Brazilian soccer superstar has confessed to exaggerating reactions to fouls he suffered during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Neymar admitted as much in a Gillette-sponsored video, which several Brazilian broadcasters aired Sunday night.
“Studs on my calf, knee in my back, stamp on my foot,” Neymar said, per Reuters. “You might think I exaggerate and sometimes I really do exaggerate. But the fact is that I suffer on the field.
“There’s still a child inside me. Sometimes he enchants the world and sometimes he irritates the world.”
Neymar faced heavy criticism for his over-the-top reactions to the many fouls he suffered during the tournament, with his antics drawing the ire of opponents and sparking a social-media campaign of imitators performing the “Neymar Challenge.”
Critics in Brazil also blasted Neymar for refusing to speak publicly, aside from one Instagram post, following the country’s quarterfinal elimination from the World Cup. He also addressed his post-World Cup silence in the video.
“When I leave without giving interviews it is not because I only want the victory laurels,” he continued. “It is because I still haven’t learned to disappoint you. When I look impolite, it is not because I am a spoiled kid. It is because I have not learned how to be frustrated.”
“It’s taken me time to accept your criticism, it’s taken me time to look into the mirror and transform myself into a new man. But I am here, with a new face and an open heart. I fell down but only those that fell down can get up.
“You can keep throwing stones or throw those stones away and help me stand. When I stand on my own two feet, all of Brazil stands with me.”
Brazil likely will forgive and back Neymar if he keeps firing his team toward its goals, but he must wait another four-plus years before learning whether the PR effort has the same effect on neutral and opposing fans.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport/USA TODAY Sports Images
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