Football

Brazil star Neymar to miss Copa America with injury

Meanwhile, woman who accuses him of rape gives details in TV interview

Brazil's 2-0 friendly win over Asian champions Qatar in Brasilia yesterday morning (Singapore time) came at a heavy cost: they lost forward Neymar for this month's Copa America because of an ankle-ligament injury.

Neymar limped off in the 17th minute after he appeared to twist his right ankle and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) later confirmed he would miss the tournament, which starts on June 14.

"Neymar was evaluated and underwent scans that confirmed a ligament rupture in the ankle," the CBF said in a statement.

"Due to the seriousness of the injury, Neymar will not recover in time to participate in Copa America in Brazil."

The injury capped a horrible few days for the Paris Saint-Germain star, who was stripped of the Brazil captaincy last month and was last weekend accused of rape in a case that has dominated the headlines in his homeland.

Brazil were already leading 1-0 courtesy of Richarlison's 16th-minute header when Neymar departed and Gabriel Jesus added the second eight minutes later from close range.

The five-time world champions were rarely troubled by a limited Qatar side.

Once again, though, all attention was focused on Neymar, the world's most expensive player and a polarising figure in the football world.

Neymar has suffered several serious injuries dating back to 2014, when a brutal knee in the back from Colombian Juan Zuniga kept him out of Brazil's World Cup semi-final 7-1 defeat by Germany.

He injured a metatarsal in his right foot that sidelined him in the months leading up to the 2018 World Cup. An injury to the same foot in January forced him to miss the business end of this season with PSG.

Meanwhile, Brazilians for the first time heard from the woman who says that Neymar sexually assaulted her at a Paris hotel.

Extracts of a televised interview with Najila Trindade Mendes de Souza, the alleged victim, aired just one hour before the Qatar friendly.

"It was aggression together with rape," said the woman in an interview broadcast on the SBT network. The full interview is scheduled to air on Monday.

Trindade, who says she works as a model, acknowledged that she initially liked Neymar and wanted to have sex with him.

The player paid for a plane ticket to bring her from Brazil and put her up in a Paris hotel.

Things changed dramatically at their first encounter, Trindade said.

"He was aggressive, totally different than the boy that I got to know on the messages.

"Since I really wanted to be with him I said, OK, I'm going to try to handle this," she said.

After some kissing and caressing "he started to hit me... then he began to hurt me a lot, and I asked him to stop because it hurt".

Trindade said Neymar apologised, but then continued hurting her while they had sex.

Separately, the G1 news website reported that police have a video that Trindade recorded of an alleged second encounter between the two. The contents were not made public.

Neymar, who insists on his innocence, published a video stating that he was the victim of entrapment.

In the same video, he also posted intimate WhatsApp messages he said he had received from his accuser and photographs of her topless in a bed.

Neymar's father has claimed his son was the victim of a blackmail attempt, which the accuser's former lawyers have rejected.

Neymar's mother Nadine Goncalves posted an emotional message on Instagram on Tuesday, urging her son to "forgive that girl" and "return to Jesus". - REUTERS, AFP

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