Brazilian Soccer Megastar Neymar Accused Of Rape: Here’s What You Need To Know

Police in Sao Paulo, Brazil, say a woman has accused Brazilian soccer megastar Neymar of drunkenly raping her at a hotel in Paris last month. 

Neymar denies the allegations and claims the whole thing is a setup designed to extort him.

Here’s a basic primer to catch you up to speed.

Who is Neymar?

Neymar Jr., 27, plays forward for the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, a position for which he’s compensated handsomely. His five-year contract with the team is worth more than $600 million, $350 million of which comprises his salary. That’s in addition to his many lucrative endorsement deals with companies like Nike, Red Bull, Gillette and McDonald’s.

Per CNBC, Neymar’s salary and endorsements together bring home an estimated $90 million a year ― enough to rank him the third highest-paid soccer player in the world.

What is he accused of?

An unnamed woman approached police in Sao Paulo on Friday and accused Neymar of raping her at an upscale hotel in Paris on May 15. 

The two met on Instagram at least as early as mid-March and exchanged messages both there, and on the messaging app WhatsApp, according to a copy of a police document obtained by The Associated Press. A representative of Neymar bought her plane tickets to Paris and booked her a room at an upscale hotel in the city.

On the night of the incident, the woman says Neymar showed up drunk and “became aggressive,” forcing her to have sexual intercourse against her will. Per the filing, she didn’t immediately approach French police because was both traumatized by what had happened and unsure about reporting it in a foreign country.

She returned Brazil two days later, where she waited until Friday to speak with the police because she was afraid of public backlash, she said. 

Police confirmed to the Brazilian website UOL that a complaint has been filed, but wouldn’t elaborate because the investigation is confidential.

How did Neymar respond?

Neymar did himself no favors in his denial, which involved publicly dismissing the claim as blackmail via a seven-minute video posted on Instagram. Most damning: Neymar shared screenshots in his response of his online interactions with the woman ― including intimate photos of her.

Instagram has since removed the video, and Brazilian police are now investigating if Neymar broke the law by distributing revealing photos of the woman without her consent.

Brazilian authorities confirmed to ESPN Brazil that Neymar is under investigation by the country’s cyber crimes unit. He faces up to five years in jail if he’s convicted, and that’s separate from whatever may happen in the rape investigation.

Here’s a small portion of the full seven-minute video:

Neymar’s father, who is also his agent, seemed unconcerned about the second investigation in an interview with the Brazilian TV channel Band on Monday.

“We didn’t have a choice [to post the content of the video],” Neymar Santos Sr. said, in comments translated by Goal. “I prefer an internet crime to rape. It was Instagram that took the video down. By Instagram rules, it was normal.”

“He censored the images, the name [of the woman]. He needed to defend himself quickly,” he continued. “It’s better to be truthful and show what happened. We knew about the blackmail, but did not [expect] her to go to the police.”

What happens next?

While Brazilian police investigate both the alleged rape and the possibility of Neymar committing cyber crimes in its denial, Neymar is back in Brazil, where he’s training with the national team for the Copa America which begins later this month.

Whatever the outcome, it’s unlikely to burnish Neymar’s less-than-sterling reputation of late. He’s recently been banned from three games for telling referees to “go f**k themselves” in an online rant, in addition to a separate three-game ban he’s serving for getting into a fight with a spectator. 

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