Neymar insisted he had been the victim of racism as he was one of five players sent off in a mass brawl at the end of Marseille’s 1-0 win over Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.
PSG’s Brazilian star appeared to accuse Alvaro Gonzalez of calling him a “monkey” in a series of furious tweets after he was sent off in injury time for slapping the Marseille defender on the back of the head.
“Look at the racism. That’s why I hit him,” Neymar, who was returning from coronavirus quarantine, said as he left the pitch. Gonzalez later denied making a racist comment.
“The only regret I have is not hitting this idiot in the face,” Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, tweeted after the game.
Neymar was red-carded after a VAR review, while teammates Layvin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes were also sent off. Marseille striker Dario Benedetto and defender Jordan Amavi were also expelled.
“It’s easy for VAR to show my ‘aggression’. ‘Now I’d like to them to show the image of the racist who called me a ‘MONKEY SON OF A BITCH’. I’d really like that!” Neymar tweeted.
Florian Thauvin’s close-range volley on 31 minutes earned Marseille a first victory over their bitter rivals since November 2011 but the ugly scenes overshadowed the game at Parc des Princes.
Neymar “told me it was a racist insult, but I didn’t hear anything on the pitch”, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said.
“There is no place for racism in football but I don’t think that was the case,” Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas told Telefoot. “We’ll have to look at it.”
– ‘What racism?’ -According to Telefoot, Gonzalez replied “What racism?” when he was asked about the incident. He also tweeted a picture of himself surrounded by multi-racial teammates.
“There’s no place for racism,” the Spaniard wrote, adding: “Sometimes you have to learn to lose and take it on the field.”
PSG sporting director Leonardo suggested referee Jerome Brisard lacked the experience to officiate such a highly-charged fixture.
“Fourteen yellow cards and five reds means the match was out of control,” said Leonardo. “Not to criticise the referee but perhaps it’s not the time to officiate a ‘clasico’.”
Tuchel tried to downplay the defeat.
“I’m not angry. I think you have to separate the performance and the result. We played a great match, I’m happy with the quality, mentality and the effort,” he said.
“I told the players if we continue to play like that we’ll win every match. It was a great performance but the result is what it is.”
PSG, runners-up to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final last month, have now lost their opening two games of a season without scoring for the first time since 1978/79.
A frenzied schedule awaits Tuchel’s coronavirus-hit side, starting with the visit of Metz in midweek and a trip to Nice next Sunday, and Neymar now faces a suspension.
Marseille find themselves with an early six-point advantage as they attempt to close the gap on PSG, French champions seven of the past eight years.
– Mbappe out -After fielding a depleted line-up at Lens on Thursday, Tuchel was able to recall Neymar and Angel Di Maria for a match played in front of around 4,000 supporters in Paris.
However, Kylian Mbappe remained absent after testing positive for the coronavirus on France duty at the start of the week with Mauro Icardi and Marquinhos also still missing.
Marseille ‘keeper Steve Mandanda produced a magnificent reflex to keep out an effort from Marco Verratti just a minute in as tempers bubbled over frequently in the capital.
Thauvin, who shone in Marseille’s opening 3-2 win at Brest before the international break, made the breakthrough when he turned in a Dimitri Payet free-kick from point-blank range.
Di Maria found the net for PSG just past the hour but had strayed behind the last defender, and Marseille’s celebrations were cut short in similar fashion moments later when a Benedetto goal was ruled offside.
PSG’s last goal came in the 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League semi-final on August 18, and Neymar poked wide from a Pablo Sarabia cross before the contest deteriorated at the finish.
“It’s a bit disappointing we ended like that,” said Thauvin. “We didn’t want to get into that sort of game.”
I have no regrets leaving Real Madrid – Bale
Gareth Bale says he “grew up” during his time with Real Madrid and has “no regrets” having departed the Spanish club to return to Tottenham.
Bale joined Spurs on a season-long loan earlier this month seven years after having departed north London for a then world-record transfer fee.
Despite having played a key role in Real winning four Champions League titles, Bale fell out of favour with manager Zinedine Zidane and made just 20 appearances last season as he was frozen out by the Frenchman.
The 31-year-old also endured a strained relationship with the Spanish media, who were highly critical of him, particularly towards the end of his time in Spain.
“No I don’t have any regrets, no,” Bale told Sky Sports. “I just try and play football, that’s all I can do and everything else that’s said externally is out of my control.
“As I said, I have no regrets of what I’ve done, whatever anyone else has said, that’s up to them. I know my opinion of myself and my family know exactly what I am, so that’s all I’m worried about.
“Obviously going into a different culture, a different country, I’ve had to grow up as a person, never mind a footballer.
“You just learn how to deal with the situations that you’re in. Obviously I’ve been in immense pressure situations. I’ve had people on the pitch whistling in the stadium to me.
“So yeah I’ve just learned how to deal with those type of things, to not take it to seriously, take it too much to heart, and yeah just get on with it. It’s football – something that you love doing and you just need to give your best and sometimes that’s all you can do.”
Tottenham finished sixth in the Premier League last season, and with Bale’s arrival, the club will be aiming for a return to the top four and Champions League qualification.
After a surprise defeat at home to Everton in their season opener, Spurs overcame a lacklustre first-half performance to thrash Southampton 5-2 on Sunday, giving them some much-needed momentum to take into this weekend’s match against Newcastle.
“Of course when you come into any club you want to do well, you want to help the team as much as you can,” Bale said.
“We have a great team here now with a great squad. They’ve been doing great. Obviously in the time that I’ve gone away they’ve gone on and on and obviously reached the Champions League final, the club’s got a new stadium, the club itself is better, they’re doing better in the Premier League every year.
“So I just want to add to that. I want to try and bring a bit more to the team and try and progress even more and keep pushing in the right direction.”
I’m not desperate for CAF presidency, says Pinnick
President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, says he is not desperate to contest for the presidency of the Confederation of African Football, adding that he is yet to take a decision on gunning for the continent’s top football job.
Speaking to our correspondent after the unveiling of the official logo and brand ambassadors of the National Principals’ Cup at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Monday, Pinnick said consultations were ongoing to determine if he would contest.
“I’m still consulting because the CAF presidency is not a cup of tea,” the NFF president said.
“You have to ask God for direction, ask your wife because she is also a boss and if she says no it is a no. You have to ask your children, who are your immediate family, then the extended family who are the football family, the (NFF) Technical Committee, the (NFF) congress, political stakeholders. “After you must have gotten endorsement, you have to go to the (sports) ministry, the Presidency, and from there I need to inform my zone because I’m in WAFU B, I will also have to talk to my friends.
“We are on all those things and if it works out it is fine but if it doesn’t I might find myself with the FIFA Council. We are not doing it out of desperation but there are a lot of things people would not understand.”
PSG submit Neymar-Alvaro video to league
Paris Saint-Germain have sent French football authorities a video that some lip-reading experts say confirms Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez used a racial slur against Neymar, leading to an on-pitch brawl, Brazilian media reported.
A week after PSG’s 1-0 loss to their arch rivals ended with Neymar slapping Gonzalez on the back of the head — triggering a melee that ended with five players sent off — Brazil’s Globo Esporte said the Brazilian superstar’s club had submitted video of the preceding minutes to the league “to attempt to prove that Neymar was the victim of racism.”
Brazilian news site UOL said Monday it had confirmed the information.
Three Brazilian lip-reading experts interviewed by Globo TV Sunday agreed that Gonzalez had called Neymar “mono” — “monkey” in Spanish — just before the brawl, after watching the footage from French broadcaster Telefoot.
However, other lip-reading experts — notably in Gonzalez’s native Spain — have analyzed the same tape and found no evidence the defender used a racial slur.
According to some Spanish media reports, Neymar in fact used a homophobic slur against Gonzalez.
The French league, which suspended Neymar for two matches over the incident, has announced a probe into his accusations, which Gonzalez denies.