x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Brazilian Neymar claims racist chants after win over Scotland

The teenager has directly accused Scotland's large travelling support of booing him at London; a charge the Tartan Army vigorously denies.

Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring the second goal against Scotland at the Emirates Stadium in London. Tom Hevezi / AP Photo
Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring the second goal against Scotland at the Emirates Stadium in London. Tom Hevezi / AP Photo

London had come to watch the prodigious talent that is the Brazilian teenager Neymar. They observed a joyous confirmation of it in the two goals that defeated Scotland, yet ended up embroiled in a row about racist crowd behaviour.

Neymar directly accused Scotland's large travelling support of booing him because of the colour of his skin; a charge the Tartan Army vigorously denies. The forward and team-mates also complained of a banana being thrown onto the pitch, for some of them aimed directly at Neymar.

There was no question that the mercurial 19-year-old had been booed by Scotland fans from early in the first half, though that was for what they perceived as Neymar's gamesmanship.

Then, after Neymar converted a 77th-minute penalty, a banana was propelled into Scotland's penalty area. That it had come from an end of Arsenal's stadium primarily populated by Brazilian fans made no difference to the charges that followed.

"They were jeering me a lot, even when I was about to kick the penalty," said Neymar in an interview with Brazilian channel SporTV. "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."

In futher interviews Neymar admitted that he hadn't actually seen what had happened. "I didn't see it being thrown, I think it was [Brazil left back] Andre Santos who threw it out of the pitch.

"I feel great and scored two but what happened with the banana is sad. I don't want to make a big deal if it. I was running down the touchline in the second half and saw it but I didn't see where it came from."

Though Brazil coach Mano Menezes said he had not seen the incident either live or on television, and the Brazilian federations director of communications Rodrigo Paiva also declined to comment, their players were not so cirumspect.

"I believe that there is racism in the world we live in today," said Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva. "There is no more space for this. These are first world- countries in Europe, and things like this happen? Today colour and race is not important. We just want respect."

Scotland's support made up around half of the official attendance of 53,087, appearing to conduct themselves in a typically boisterous yet controlled manner, applauding both teams at the end of a match that both coaches described positively. Respected for the manner in which they police their own behaviour, the Tartan Army's refuted the accusations against them.

"The reason Neymar was booked was because we believed he was feigning injury during the course of the game," said Hamish Husband, a spokesman for the Association of Tartan Army Clubs. "Racism has no place

within the Tartan Army and if it did exist we would stamp it out immediately as we are self-policing.

"We felt Neymar was feigning injury and any suggestion of racism amongst our supporters is absolute tosh. We would not tolerate this if it exists. As far as we are concerned we accept that Brazil played us off the park and we applauded them for the quality of their football."

The row was an unfortunate end to an upbeat friendly in which a developmental Brazil team returned to winning ways after consecutive losses to Argentina and France, and Craig Levein declared himself satisfied with the manner in which his young team had held themselves tactically and mentally against highly motivated opponents.

"I enjoyed it," said Levein. "One thing for certain we won't have many tougher friendlies than that. There is always the thought in the back of your mind playing against that quality of opposition that we might get turned over, but that didn't happen.

"The best thing is the benefits that we'll gain for the future. We're trying to develop this idea that we're a tight group and it's a team mentality. We couldn't have picked a tougher friendly, it's impossible. Particularly as Brazil are playing us off the back of two defeats, which doesn't often happen. It was really important for them today that they won the game. I think you can see that the game wasn't played at half-pace."

Neymar had only been afforded the opportunity to start by injuries to Alexandre Pato and Nilmar, yet the 19-year-old excelled throughout. A 42nd-minute shot to open the scoring was curved precisely around Gary Caldwell and Allan McGregor, while Charlie Adam was drawn into a foul for the second.

A target for Europe's premier clubs, Neymar remained at Santos last year after the Brazilian club granted him an unusually lucrative contract. Though Saturday evening had brought visits from agents Kia Joorabchian and Pini Zahavi to Neymar's Dorchester Hotel berth, the player declined to be drawn into public discussion of a future transfer.

"I'm happy at Santos and I'm not talking about anything like that just now," said Neymar. "This is an amazing stadium, but for now just being here with the Brazil team is good enough for me."