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Why Brazilian players support Jair Bolsonaro - Tim Vickery

Tim Vickery explains the context behind Brazilian footballers' support for Jair Bolsonaro.



Tim Vickery joined The Football Show to discuss the Brazilian election and Jair Bolsonaro.

Jair Bolsonaro and Lula will endure a second round of voting in Brazilian.

The current President of Brazil and the former President of Brazil are vying to become the next President of Brazil. Lula is viewed as the progressive candidate, but Bolsonaro is the candidate who has received more backing from Brazilian footballers.

Bolsonaro received 43% of the first vote and is a far right candidate.

Lula received 48% of the first vote, but it wasnt' enough to win outright.

A slate of current and former Brazil international footballers have backed Bolsonaro. Neymar is the most prominent from the current group, but there's also the likes of Ronaldinho from teams past. Journalist Tim Vickery explains that not all of the endorsements are welcome.

"There are a couple that are more problematic for the Bolsonaro government," Vickery said.

"Robinho has reappeared on social media for the first time in months and months and months. Robinho, a former Man City, Real Madrid striker. [He] is, and all the elements of appeal are used up, there's nowhere else to go, he is a convicted rapist.

"And Italy today have asked for his extradition. They won't get it."

And Robinho is not the only one.

"There's one, a little-known ex-footballer who recently retired. He's extremely problematic. A fella called Fabricio Manini. Let him live in shame. He went to social media after the elections and said Bolsonaro supporters like himself should get in their cars and run down homeless people begging in the streets. Because the country can no longer sustain these worms.

"He deleted this post. But that shows you the more ugly side of this movement."

Robinho and Manini are extreme characters, but not all of the Brazil players who support Bolsonaro are viewed that way.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson is outspoken in his support for Bolsonaro and has no hint of controversy in his reputation. Fabinho's wife Rebecca Tarvares openly supports Bolsonaro too, neither the Liverpool midfielder nor his wife have any public controversies to point to.

"But why is it happening? It's a question I receive all the time. Why are the footballers supporting the far right?

"My answer is that this no longer appears far right in a Brazilian context. This God, Country, Family [slogan]. Thiago Silva didn't mention Bolsonaro but he put that slogan on his social media on the day of the election. This is utterly, utterly normal.

"It shows where the political debate has gone."

Vickery goes on to explain the lack of trade unions in Brazil allow Bolsonaro's messaging to go unchallenged. He has turned far right politics into nationalism, so he can use the Brazilian flag and the yellow jersey of the football team to support his campaign.

He also explained the link between religion and the far right.

"Evangelical Christianity, which is a hugely growing force in Brazil and does some good. It offers a support structure, especially for poor migrants on the outskirts of the city. But there is a political project there with Christianity and one of the Evangelical churches published a thing recently saying it is incompatible to be on the left and be a Christian.

"It's very, very similar to the movement in the United States. And it's this kind of environment these footballers you mention, they have grown up in an environment of Evangelical Christianity."

Bolsonaro is not guaranteed to win the election, but the support of celebrities will play a big role if he does. Neymar and his teammates have huge influence in Brazil and the rest of the world, so their endorsements matter a lot.

When asked why he supported Bolsonaro, Neymar offered no answers. The intersection of sports and politics continues in an overt manner. And it's not likely to stop anytime soon.

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Brazil Jair Bolsonaro Neymar Soccer Tim Vickery

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