A Brazil training session – ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Colombia this week – was invaded by fans on Sunday, including one who jumped on Barcelona star Neymar.
The session at Arena Amazonia was open to the public with 15,000 people reported to be watching from the stands. However, a number of overexcited supporters broke barriers to run on the pitch and get closer to their idols, including captain Neymar, who fell to the ground after one attempted to embrace him.
Brazil player Paulinho defended the fans’ behaviour, saying: “It’s part of the love that the fans have for the players. I only asked them to be calm.”
Improved player-fan atmosphere
The incident was the major anecdote from a training session where an improved atmosphere between players and fans since Brazil won Olympic Gold was plain for all to see.
Before Brazil picked up gold in Rio last month, many supporters had turned against the side, booing and chanting for the opposition as they were held to two goalless draws against South Africa and Iraq.