There is a plan in the CBF, after the presidential election, to remove the politicization around the national team’s shirt that became associated with the Bolsonarista movement. The intention is for the uniform to be embraced by all Brazilians, and not just by a political spectrum. This move, however, was made more difficult by the strong engagement of team star Neymar in Jair Bolsonaro’s re-election campaign. He even promoted to celebrate goals with the president’s number.
The selection shirt began to be a symbol of the movements in favor of the impeachment of former president Dilmar Roussef. Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign in 2018 has already inherited, in a way, this use of the uniform as a mark of his movement. Yellow became predominant in rallies and marches, which remained during his administration.
As a counterpoint, this generated a reaction from Bolsonaro’s critics who started to reject the national team shirt.
The CBF has avoided getting involved with the presidential campaign: it even took a photo of a shirt with the number 22 on its social networks – in a ceremony with Nike leaders – when noticing the association with Bolsonaro. Coach Tite has adopted the same stance, and players have spoken of avoiding political demonstrations.
Neymar, however, preferred to adopt another stance. He announced his support for Bolsonaro in a video. After that, in live, he was criticized by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who associated support for government actions to deal with the Federal Revenue’s charges to the player – there is an accusation that Neymar withheld taxes from his transfer to Barcelona.
The player reacted, released a note criticizing Lula. Then he engaged once and for all in Bolsonaro’s campaign by participating in a live with the president. Allies of the politician used an image of Neymar with the team’s shirt to publicize the live. In addition, the player even distributed fake news from the president’s allies.
In the program, Neymar personally thanked Bolsonaro for support in a difficult time. It seemed to refer to the episode where he was accused of rape, in which he was found not guilty.
“I’ve never said this anywhere. I wanted to thank the president who, in the most difficult moment of my life, was the first to publicly take a stand saying that he would be on my side. So when I saw what was happening, I felt it in my heart. that I should return the same affection he had for me without even knowing me”, he said.
And he even said that he would be happy if Bolsonaro were reelected and Brazil was hexa. He amended by promising to celebrate his first goal in the Cup with his fingers two by two in allusion to the president’s number. He also said that he will meet Bolsonaro with the cup in his hand.
The CBF, obviously, will not do anything and the player is free to announce his political support to whomever he wants. Nor is there any discussion about it since any athlete or person should have the space to express themselves as they wish.
It is a fact that Neymar, as the main star, represents the image of the national team. When he supports Bolsonaro with strong engagement, the association of the Brazilian team with the president of the Republic is inevitable, whether the CBF wants it or not. It only strengthens the link between the canarinho shirt and Bolsonaro.
So, the confederation’s plan to depoliticize the kit for the 2022 Qatar Cup will be very difficult. To see how the population will react in relation to the uniform after the end of the elections.