Brazil legend Ronaldo has sent an emotional open letter to compatriot Neymar urging him to “turn hate” into fuel.
Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, said he was shocked by the level of “jealousy and evil” the Brazil star had to deal with.
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Neymar is aiming to win his first senior trophy for his country but is unlikely to return before the knockout stages of the World Cup after injuring his right ankle in their opening game in a 2-0 win over Serbia.
Ronaldo has now jumped into the Paris Saint-Germain star’s defense after some fans celebrated his injury
Ronaldo wrote on Instagram: “By the way, your talent has taken you so far and so high that every corner of the world has love and admiration for you.”
“It’s also the reason why he had to deal with so much jealousy and evil in order to get to where he is, for the success he’s had. On the level of celebrating a star like you getting hurt, using someone like you Stories. How far have we come? What world is this? What message are we trying to send to our young people?
“There will always be people against you, but it’s sad to see society go down the path of intolerance, trivialization, and normalization of hate speech. I write to you today against this destructive verbal violence: come back Get stronger! Smarter! Eager to score!
“The good things you’ve done on and off the pitch far outweigh the envy of you. Don’t forget the journey that made you an icon of world football. Brazil loves you! … Don’t elevate cowards and envy. Celebrations come from you guys Love from most of the country. You will bounce back Neymar! May all the hate be turned into fuel.”
Neymar, 30, traveled to Qatar for the tournament in stunning form. He made 19 appearances for PSG before the World Cup break, scoring 15 goals and assisting 12.
The former Barcelona star has scored 75 goals in 121 appearances for Brazil, just two steps away from tying Brazil’s all-time top scorer Pele.
Ronaldo wasn’t the only Brazilian star to come forward in Neymar’s defence. His teammates Casemiro and Rafinha also publicly supported him.
“Argentina fans treat [Lionel] Messi is like a god. Portuguese fans see Cristiano Ronaldo as king. Brazilian fans cheer for Neymar breaking his leg,” Rafinha said on Instagram.
“How sad, the biggest mistake of Neymar’s career was being born in Brazil, a country that doesn’t deserve his talent and football.”
Casemiro said he was appalled by the abuse Neymar received on social media.
“When you wish to hurt someone, no matter who they are, it’s very serious,” Casemiro said. “I’m sad, especially for someone who has helped so many people, he has a big heart. Neymar doesn’t deserve to be treated like this… Neymar is a great player, star of the team, he made everything become different.”