Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar says he does not agree with the recent criticism of him from Brazil legend Pele regarding the perception of play-acting that dogged the attacking player throughout the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Neymar and Brazil were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Belgium despite entering the tournament as one of the favourites.
Neymar was looked up to as the talisman to win a trophy that Pele lifted three times during his career. But the 26-year-old also spent much of last year’s tournament in Russia being subjected to criticism over diving, an accusation that clearly gets on Neymar’s nerves. As a result, Brazil’s successive failures at the last two World Cups have led some in the country to criticise their star player, and Pele revealed last week that he had spoken to Neymar, especially regarding the controversy over his alleged diving.
“Pelé’s criticisms? I’ve found them interesting,” Neymar responded in an interview with Canal+. “As soon as you don’t win, criticisms come. I’ve never been acting during the World Cup, I’ve just been subject to fouls. Today people talk a lot about that because it’s Neymar and everything is amplified. I respect Pelé’s criticisms but I don’t approve them.”