SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro enlisted the help of soccer star Neymar on a campaign stop Wednesday, just four days before the country's general elections.
Bolsonaro visited a non-profit youth institute set up by Neymar in the city of Praia Grande and took a call from the Paris Saint-Germain player, who thanked the far-right leader and said he was proud of him.
Bolsonaro is largely trailing leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the polls ahead of Sunday's vote. The Brazilian president arrived at the Neymar Jr. Institute, outside Sao Paulo, after riding a motorcycle alongside supporters.
“President Bolsonaro,” Neymar said in a video posted by Brazil's Communications Minister, Fabio Faria. “I thank you for your illustrious visit. I wish I was there, unfortunately I am far away. But I will be with you in the next one. I am very happy because you are there.”
Bolsonaro posted another video on Twitter showing Neymar's call during his visit, as hundreds of children circled around the president and took pictures with him.
“I thank you for your support, as always,” the footballer tells the far-right leader. “You know that I am very proud of you."
Neymar played Tuesday in Brazil's 5-1 win against Tunisia in a pre-World Cup friendly in Paris. He scored one of the goals from the penalty spot.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the striker had suggested on his social media channels he was withdrawing his support for Bolsonaro, who is unvaccinated and proudly flouted health protocols as the disease spread. More than 680,000 people died due to the virus in Brazil.
Bolsonaro said that Neymar's institute “is a reference for all of Brazil."
“Our Neymar is a source of pride for all of us,” Brazil's president said.
Neymar da Silva Santos, the player's father and agent, also celebrated Bolsonaro's visit on his social media channels.
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Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press