Before leaving the presidency, Jair Bolsonaro (PL) bestowed the titles of the Order of the Rio Branco on several personalities, military and Olympic gold medalists at the Tokyo Games, held in 2021. Among them is Neymar, who was present at Brazil’s Olympic conquest of Japan. The decree was made official in the Official Gazette (DOU), on 1 December 2022.
Neymar is the only athlete on this list to receive the award without having competed in the Tokyo Olympics. In December, the federal government also awarded the 2021 Olympic gold medalists: sailors Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, gymnast Rebeca Andrade and surfer Ítalo Ferreira. All were awarded the Order in the rank of Commander.
In the DOU, Neymar is classified as an “athlete” in his decoration. Additionally, other Olympic gold medalists in 2021 did not receive the honor. Ana Marcela Cunha, from the aquatic marathon, Hebert Conceição, from boxing, and Isaquias Queiroz, from the canoe, were not on the list.
This is the second honor Bolsonaro has bestowed on Neymar. In 2020, the then president presented the player with the Cruz do Mérito Desportivo medal, which was also presented to 24 other athletes, including gymnast Arthur Zanetti, boxer Robson Conceição and judoka Sarah Menezes.
Neymar’s decoration to the Order takes place at the suggestion of the Paris embassy, also in February last year, for the player to receive the decoration. To this end, his Olympic gold medal, won in 2016, his performance in France, where he has been active since 2017, and his presence on social networks were highlighted.
Passed away in the last month, Pelé is one of the Brazilian athletes to have received the decoration of the Order of Rio Branco, in 1969, from the hands of Emílio Garrastazu Médici, then president of Brazil and Grand Master of the Order. In 2008 Cafu was also awarded the honor, with the rank of Officer. At the age of 37, the AC Milan right-back received the medal from Consul Antonio Augusto Dayrell de Lima, in a ceremony held at the Brazilian Consulate in Milan.
The Estadão Report contacted Neymar’s adviser, NR Sports, to comment on the case, but received no response.
WHAT IS THE ORDER OF RIO BRANCO?
Established by then President João Goulart by decree nº 51 697, of February 5, 1963, the Order of Rio Branco aims to encourage the practice of actions and deeds worthy of honorable mention by distinguishing meritorious services and civic virtues. It takes its name from the baron of Rio Branco, patron of Brazilian diplomacy.
The decoration consists of five degrees: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight, as well as a Medal attached to the Order. All the titles distributed by Jair Bolsonaro are in the third degree of importance.
“The insignia of the Order is a cross with four arms and eight points enamelled in white, with in the center the armillary sphere, in gilt silver, inscribed in a circle of blue enamel, the legend ‘Ubique Patriae Memor’, in the same metal , gilt back, dates 1845-1912”, says the art. 2 of the Regulation.
The Order of Rio Branco is divided into two cadres: Ordinary and Supplementary. The first, with limited places, brings together Brazilian diplomats, while the second rewards retired diplomats and all other natural or legal persons, national or foreign, who can receive the Order.
According to the official government portal, the Council of the Order is made up of the President of the Republic, the Grand Master, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in his capacity as Chancellor, the Heads of the Civil and Military Houses of the Presidency of the Republic and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
NEYMAR AND BOLSONARO REPORT
The relationship between Neymar and former president Jair Bolsonaro is long-standing. In addition to having already received other decorations, he declared his support during his re-election campaign on social networks, a video in which he performs a choreography in tune with a song asking for votes, in September last year. The striker had already shown his closeness to the president on other occasions, but support was strengthened when Bolsonaro visited the Instituto Neymar Júnior in the city of Praia Grande on the coast of São Paulo.
At the time, the striker of the Brazilian national team and Paris Saint-Germain was criticized on social media and made fun of by those who disapproved of his position. “They talk about democracy and ‘many’ things, but when someone has a different opinion, they are attacked by those who talk about democracy.”
The player also went on a live stream to help in the then-president’s re-election campaign. “I have never said it anywhere, but I wanted to thank the president who, in the most difficult moment of my life, he was the first to take a public position saying that he would be on my side”.
Neymar even quoted Bolsonaro’s campaign motto — “Brazil first, God above” — before receiving an appeal from the president to get voters to vote for him during the live stream. “I’m very happy to see flags flying all over Brazil lately, not just for the stakes, but for the pride of being Brazilian,” he said. “What motivated me to express my opinion are the values that the president brings, which are very similar to me, to my family, to everything we value”, amended the player, who also invited other athletes to position yourself in the election.
The athlete also promised that if he scored at the World Cup in Qatar, he would dedicate his celebration to Bolsonaro. The striker scored twice, against South Korea in the round of 16 and against Croatia in the quarter-finals. On neither occasion did he dedicate his goal to the former president.
In 2019, when the athlete was accused of attempted rape, Bolsonaro said he believed in his innocence and even met him before a match of the Brazilian national team at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia. “I hope to hug Neymar before the game. He’s in a difficult moment, but I believe in him,” he said.
That same year, Neymar’s father was in Brasilia for a meeting with President Jair Bolsonaro. Entrepreneur Neymar da Silva Santos was also received by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, to “provide clarifications” on the lawsuit against the player which was being examined by the Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (CARF).
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