KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Neymar, the poor little rich boy of world football, apparently has better things to do in the autumn than play football in the Champions or French leagues.
The 27-year-old Brazilian forward – formerly known as superstar – was banned last week by European federation UEFA for Paris Saint-Germain’s opening three group matches in the Champions League after an abusive outburst against the video referee of their second round defeat by Manchester United.
Now he risks a domestic French ban of up to five or even eight games after slapping a fan jeering him after PSG’s surprise shootout defeat by Rennes in Saturday’s French cup final.
In addition, back home in Brazil, his private jet and helicopter have been impounded by the authorities while Neymar’s father and legal representatives contest a £14m penalty and restitution for tax evasion.
Neymar’s father met Finance Ministry Paulo Guedes at the weekend in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
Back in France PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had no sympathy for Neymar’s cup final tantrum as he was collecting his loser’s medal.
Tuchel said: “It’s not possible to do that, it’s just not possible. Of course it’s not easy to climb the stairs after a defeat. It’s very difficult for me, for everyone. We have to accept it. If we lose, we need to show respect. It’s not possible to clash with a spectator.”
Neymar later published an Instagram post in which he apologised for his error of judgment but justified his behaviour in the grounds that “no-one can remain indifferent in defeat.”
That post was deleted before he posted a new one saying: “Nobody likes to lose so those who know me know how competitive I am and how defeat upsets me. But losing is part of the life of an athlete, makes us grow, makes us think, makes us better.”
Also missing the end of the season will be team-mate Kylian Mbappé who was sent off for violent conduct just before the end of extra time in the cup fnal.
Neymar’s behaviour across all high-profile competitions will do nothing to improve the image of PSG in the eyes of French fans generally.
Veteran former international and TV analyst Jean-Michel Larque did not mince his words in an interview with weekly magazine France Football in which he reviewed the club’s repeated failures to translate domestic success on the international stage.
PSG had failed to engage the support of all French fans in the manner of Reims in the 1950s, Saint-Etienne in the 1970s and Marseille in the 1990s.
Larque added: “In the provinces nobody shed a tear for PSG [after the defeat by Manchester United]. . . We don’t have the same football culture as in England or Germany or Italy or Spain . . . I’ve heard that some PSG supporters didn’t want to go back to the Parc again after Manchester. Some loyalty!”