Brazil star Neymar has rejected criticism of his lifestyle, asking reporters: “Why can I not go out and enjoy parties?”
Barcelona forward Neymar, 24, missed this summer’s Copa America Centenario in the United States in order to take part in next month’s Olympic football tournament in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite his absence from the Copa America, he headed to the United States and attracted heavy criticism for his off-field behaviour. Neymar had hosted a pool party and watched the draw with Ecuador in the company of Justin Bieber and Jamie Foxx, as well as making a controversial Instagram post telling the team’s critics they could “go to hell” after Brazil’s early exit.
Neymar suggested he accepted the discussion over his role in the 2015 Copa America exit, when disciplinary issues saw his tournament brought to an early end, but said his behaviour this summer was not a matter for public debate.
“You have to look at the things that I do on the pitch. Anything else is private,” Neymar told reporters. “When I’m off the pitch, that’s my private life. You have to judge me on the pitch. I have no problem talking about cards or sendings-off, but I have a private life. I’m 24 years old.
“I have my achievements and I have my own things outside of that. I am very quiet about these things, but of course you can criticise me. I make mistakes too. I’m not a perfect guy.
“I also like to go out and have fun with my friends. I have my family and friends. Why can I not go out and enjoy parties? I can do that and will continue to. If I’m aware of my duties the next day, I see no problem.”
He added: “Imagine you’re 24 years old, earning what I earn and having all that I have. Wouldn’t you be the same as me?”
Brazil, who face South Africa, Iraq and Denmark in Group A, have never won gold at the Olympic football tournament.
Neymar was part of the side that won silver at the 2012 tournament in London and said: “I am not worried about losing.
“Being afraid of losing robs you of the desire to win. If we lose, we lose with our heads high and we carry on, but if it is up to me we’re going to do everything possible to win.
“I don’t like to lose. Losing never crosses my mind. I want to bring that gold medal for Brazil that has been so difficult.”