SAO PAULO (AP) — Representatives for soccer superstar Neymar are trying to distance him from claims he has flouted pandemic warnings with a huge, multiday New Year's bash at or near his home in Brazil while on break from his French club team.
Day Crespo, the main spokesperson for Neymar, said in an message Wednesday that the Paris Saint-Germain forward isn't even at the exclusive neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro state where the party is taking place.
“Neymar Jr. will not throw any party this year, we are in a full blown pandemic and he is with his friends and family members," she said. Earlier on Wednesday the footballer published on his social media channels a picture of himself and a friend on a boat in a Southern Brazil beach, Praia do Caixa D'Aço.
The Brazilian daily O Globo reported on Saturday that the player had organized a party it called a “Neymarpalooza” in the Rio state city of Mangaratiba, where he owns a mansion. It said many guests had already landed at a nearby airfield rented by Neymar.
Two of the player's friends, DJ Miss Natália and YouTuber Ana Liz Bittencourt, published pictures on their Instagram feeds showing themselves arriving in Mangaratiba and wearing blue wristbands that allegedly allow them into the party.
On Monday, a company named Fabrica said in a statement that it organized a party for 150 people, but didn't mention Neymar, whose representatives said he was invited but was not involved.
The company said it “has followed all the health measures" set by local officials, including COVID-19 tests for all guests and social distancing rules. City officials issued statements saying they have been restricting access to the town but that attendance at private parties “is a matter of social responsibility and common sense.”
Brazil has recorded nearly 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 and its hospitals once more are nearing full capacity.
Critics noted that Neymar, who himself reportedly tested positive for the new coronavirus in early September, had made no comment about the reported party.
“It would be very simple for Neymar to go to his social media channels and say it is not his,” said Galvao Bueno, Brazil's most popular sports commentator, on channel SporTV. “LeBron James is not throwing any parties. Lewis Hamilton isn't either. Lionel Messi is not celebrating, and neither is Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar can throw any party he likes, but not at this moment.”