How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil’s sports fans
Brazilian athletes and fans are facing a tough choice: whether to stand with their president or their “yellow jersey” heroes.
As their country enters a new era of authoritarianism, the government of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is cracking down on dissent and is threatening the country’s sports heroes with jail.
Brazil has seen several coups and military coups during its turbulent history, but none came as close to toppling its most popular athlete as the government of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.
His anti-corruption crusade has led to the loss of two world titles, a boycott by some Brazilian soccer clubs and an unprecedented attack by the federal prosecutors on two of his most vocal critics.
So far it has cost him his popularity and divided his sports fans.
Bolsonaro has even provoked a rift with the Brazilian team he coaches, the Red Command, when he publicly praised them.
The head of the national soccer federation, Neymar, said he spoke to Bolsonaro this month and said the president had told him: “I don’t care about the yellow jersey. I don’t care about that. I care about the federation.”
The yellow jersey is Brazil’s national soccer team, the team with the most world and South American titles. It’s a symbol for the nation’s sports fans and the team that’s the most popular in Brazil.
Sports figures who don’t agree with the government’s policies have faced a reckoning, with the yellow jersey being chief among them.
Bolsonaro has accused the team of treason and the yellow jersey of wanting to sell their gold medals to pay for drugs. He accused Neymar, whose national team has the best all-time scoring and goals-to-points record, of having ties to the drug mafia.
The yellow jersey is a symbol for the nation’s sports fans and the team that’s the most popular in Brazil.
Neymar took back Neymar Jr.’s award after he said they would not be “