Presidential candidate makes Neymar ‘tax pardon’ claim

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Lula da Silva alleges that football ace Neymar is supporting Jair Bolsonaro due to a debt agreement

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has endorsed President Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian general election after being promised a debt pardon, according to Bolsonaro’s rival at the polls, Lula da Silva.

Neymar endorsed Bolsonaro by featuring him in a social media video where he danced to the president’s campaign song, holding up two fingers on each hand to symbolize the number ‘22’, which the controversial leader is running under.

Lula, who was president of South America’s largest country between 2003 and 2010, won the first round of voting on October 2 but is now involved in a runoff against Bolsonaro with a second round scheduled for October 30.

Heading into the runoff vote, Lula leads Bolsonaro by 53% to 47%, according to a poll released by the Datafolha institute in Brazil on Friday.

Asked about Neymar’s political preferences and support for Bolsonaro in a YouTube interview on Tuesday, Lula stressed that Neymar “has the right to choose whoever he wants to be president.”

“I think he is afraid that if I win the election, I will find out what Bolsonaro pardoned from his income tax debt. I think that’s why he’s afraid of me,” Lula added, laughing.

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“Obviously, Bolsonaro made a deal with (Neymar’s) father. He now has an income tax problem in Spain,” Lula claimed.

The comment was a reference to the favorable ruling Neymar obtained at a tax evasion trial in Brazil, but also charges he faces this week in Barcelona for alleged corruption in his 2013 transfer from the boyhood club Santos to FC Barcelona.

With Neymar failing to make the rankings after being left out of the 30-man shortlist for the award won by Karim Benzema, Lula received backing from another Brazilian sporting idol at the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

When appearing on stage at the Theatre du Chatelet, World Cup winner Rai, who is the brother of the late Brazil idol Socrates, greeted the Workers’ Party leader and mentioned the elections in his homeland, while making an ‘L’ sign with his right hand.

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