Most Brazilians think Neymar is ‘innocent’: poll


RIO DE JANEIRO, June 7, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Most Brazilians believe Neymar did not rape a woman who has accused him of sexual assault, a poll showed Friday, with more than 60 percent of respondents declaring him innocent.

The injured star striker has been flooded with messages of support on social media from his millions of followers as the scandal dominates headlines and conversations in the soccer-mad country, days before it hosts the Copa America. Neymar, who has strongly denied the allegations, was forced out of the tournament after spraining his ankle in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Qatar in a friendly on Wednesday.

In the days after the alleged rape scandal erupted last Saturday, Parana Pesquisas asked 2,071 Brazilians if they thought Neymar was guilty or innocent of the accusation.

Nearly 63 percent said he was innocent, while only 14 percent thought he was guilty of raping Najila Trindade Mendes de Souza in a Paris hotel in May.

More than half of those surveyed were women and nearly 60 percent of them said he was innocent.

In a sign of how significant a figure Neymar is in Brazilian life, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly declared the Paris Saint-Germain player’s innocence — even before police finish investigating the allegations.

“I believe him,” Bolsonaro said Wednesday ahead of the pre-tournament game. He later visited Neymar in hospital and wished him a “fast recovery”.

Neymar was mobbed by supporters and the media on Thursday night as he arrived at a police station in Rio de Janeiro to give a statement over the publication of intimate pictures of his accuser on social media.

In an attempt to defend himself against the rape claim, Neymar had posted a video on Instagram with WhatsApp messages and images of his encounter with Trindade — without her consent, possibly breaking Brazilian law.

Outside the police station he expressed gratitude to his fans for their support.

“I felt very loved,” he said.

Just before the Brazil-Qatar game on Wednesday, the SBT TV network aired an interview with Trindade in which she described suffering “aggression together with rape” at the hands of Neymar.

Trindade, who works as a model, arrived at a Sao Paulo police station on Friday where her complaint is under investigation.

Her lawyer Danilo Garcia Andrade said Thursday his client has received threats, adding: “It is very difficult for her to take on board that what she lived through was in fact rape.”