Brazilian soccer star Neymar backs Bolsonaro ahead of Sunday vote

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Brazil v Ghana - Stade Oceane, Le Havre, France - September 23, 2022 Brazil's Neymar during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer star Neymar Junior endorsed President Jair Bolsonaro's uphill re-election bid on Thursday, showing his support in a TikTok video as he smiled and danced to a campaign jingle ahead of the weekend's pivotal election.

Neymar's public backing came a day after Bolsonaro visited a charitable institute near Sao Paulo belonging to the global superstar, who currently plays professionally for Paris Saint-Germain Football Club.

Neymar appeared in a separate video greeting Bolsonaro at the institute event but stopped short of endorsing the incumbent, who trails former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, in opinion polls ahead of the first-round Oct. 2 vote.

In the short TikTok post, Neymar sings a couple lyrics from the campaign jingle, calling out Bolsonaro's position on the ballot before imploring votes for the far-right leader.

At the event the day earlier, Neymar thanked Bolsonaro for "this illustrious visit."

In recent days, Neymar helped Brazil's national team as they thrashed Ghana and Tunisia in friendly games in the run-up to this year's Qatar World Cup, set to kick off in late November.

Bolsonaro quickly posted Neymar's endorsement video on Twitter, linking his re-election bid to the push by soccer-loving Brazil to win a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

Lula has also bet on celebrity support to boost his popularity.

Earlier this week, the odds-on favorite attended an event with several Brazilian artists. He has also been endorsed by international stars including Mark Ruffalo, Roger Waters and Danny Glover.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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