Neymar’s cultural significance to Brazil transcends soccer, World Cup

“Tweets of sympathy and support from Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to Kobe Bryant and everyone in between, including super models (Gisele Bundchen), Olympic sprinters (Usain Bolt), footballers (Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) and soap opera stars (too many to mention). Hours of TV coverage devoted to detailed analysis of spinal columns and estimated back injury recovery times. More hours of TV coverage dedicated to discussion of whether Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zuniga’s crushing, knee-raised challenge was premeditated or not (the debate oscillating between ‘a normal part of soccer’ and ‘a cowardly assault’). FIFA Fan Fests all over the country, filled with supporters who minutes before had been wildly celebrating Brazil’s 2-1 World Cup quarterfinal win over Colombia, falling still and silent. On Friday evening, Brazil turned its lonely eyes to Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.” SI


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