TERESOPOLIS – The coach of the Brazilian national football team, Tite, said Monday he would “not judge” the sexual assault allegations levelled against his star player Neymar, which the Paris Saint-Germain forward says are an attempt to blackmail him.
“I understand the seriousness of the issue,” he said. “But there must be time for people to be able weigh the facts.”
“I'm not going to let myself judge the facts,” the coach said at the Brazilian squad's training centre outside Rio, where they are preparing for the upcoming Copa America tournament.
“The facts are not sufficiently clear. Only time will give us answers,” Tite said, fielding numerous questions about the accusations made over the weekend. “The team is above all of that,” he added.
“In the three years I have been dealing with Neymar, all the personal issues we have dealt with have been fair and truthful,” he said.
“Neymar is an extraordinary player,” Tite said. “From a technical point of view, he is indispensible,” although he added that did not mean he was “irreplaceable.”
The scandal erupted on Saturday when local media published accusations that a Brazilian woman had filed with the Sao Paulo police, accusing the 27-year-old football star Neymar of forcing her into a non-consensual sexual relationship after meeting her on Instagram and inviting her to visit him in a Paris hotel in May.
Sao Paulo police have confirmed that the accusations had been filed but said the details of the case were confidential.
Neymar is training in Teresopolis with his teammates for the tournament which will take place in Brazil from June 14 to July 7. On Wednesday, the five-time world champions will play a friendly in the capital Brasilia against Qatar.
As well as facing accusations of rape in Sao Paulo, Neymar will be investigated by police in Rio de Janeiro for releasing a video featuring a series of WhatsApp chats and intimate photos of his accuser in an attempt to clear his name.
The footballer did not show her face or reveal her name, but such revelations are banned under Brazilian law.
A police car was spotted entering the training facility towards noon on Monday as Tite was making his appearance before the media.
But the Brazilian football federation has asked police to postpone the date for Neymar to appear in person to provide a statement.
Neymar has reportedly been summoned to appear before investigators in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.
But the footballer is due to be in the southern city of Porto Alegre that day to prepare for a friendly match against Honduras on Sunday ahead of the Copa America.
According to Globoesporte.com, Neymar could give evidence on the Monday after the match before rejoining the team in Sao Paulo.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)