Neymar rejects SFA's apology demand
Neymar has rejected the Scottish Football Association's request of an apology, claiming he never singled out their fans when complaining of racist abuse in Brazil's friendly with Scotland.
A banana was thrown onto the pitch during Brazil's 2-0 victory in London on Sunday, prompting Neymar to speak out against racism after the match, but it has since emerged that a German tourist threw the fruit and not with a racist intent.
But the way Neymar phrased his allegations could be taken to imply the Scottish supporters as a group, who jeered the striker throughout but only in response to his perceived play-acting, were singling out the goal-scorer in a racist context.
That prompted SFA chief executive Stewart Regan to write to the Brazilian federation (CBF) to request an apology for the Scotland fans, which he said would be welcomed either from Neymar or from the federation.
However Neymar has now claimed he did not single out Scottish fans as a guilty party after the match, which was played at the Emirates Stadium in London, and consequently stated he will not be retracting his remarks. Neymar posted a statement on his official website on Thursday, explaining his position.
He wrote: "I was surprised on Thursday by a letter from the Scottish FA, in which they demand an apology from me or from the Brazilian Football Confederation regarding the incident involving a banana thrown toward the field during the Brazil v Scotland friendly on Sunday, March 27. Stewart Regan says that the 'accusations' made after the match cast doubt on the reputation of 'good-humoured and respectful' Scottish fans.''
Neymar adds: "At no time, even at the end of the game, still enveloped by the thrill of scoring the two goals that won the game, did I accuse any person or any group of supporters, of whatever nationality, of having committed such an act. All the interviews I gave at the end of the match, in Portuguese, are available for consultation with media companies that covered the friendly.
"Yes, I did lament the fact, condemn any and all prejudice, but I repeat, at no time did I accuse anybody. So I do not understand why I have to retract what I said. The requirement from the Scottish, after all that happened, seems somewhat ironic, since, if there has been prejudice, it is us, the players, who should 'require' a formal apology.''
Neymar stressed he had declared the matter closed in his post-match interviews.
He added: "I spent a great time with my family in the UK and even stayed a day longer than planned. I only have praise for the way I was treated at every place we visited. The hospitality my family was offered was an honour for us. They were unforgettable days. That said, for my part, I consider the matter closed.''
Speaking after the game, Neymar had said the banana incident was "sad'' and claimed he was the subject of vocal abuse from spectators, which he felt was racist.
He told Brazilian television channel Sportv on Sunday: "The entire stadium was jeering. This atmosphere of racism is totally sad. We leave our country to play here and something like this happens. It's sad. I'd rather not even talk about it, to keep the subject from escalating.''