Beach fives rugby gets tick of approval from NRL greats in Newcastle

Dual international Lote Tuqiri is among several retired NRL players who want to see beach fives rugby thrive as a sport in Australia.

The game, catering for both men and women, features five players on the beach at any one time for each side, with up to seven reserves on the sidelines. There is unlimited interchange.

The play focuses on fast handling and stamina, with no scrums or lineouts to slow the game down.

It is not full-tackle, or touch, but rather something in the middle — a two-handed “grab” is allowed, with players having to release the ball if they take control or are held for two seconds.

Newcastle’s Nobbys Beach was the venue for the Beach 5s Australia Day Festival on Tuesday, with teams made up of players from rugby league, rugby union and touch football.

The intense nature of a beach rugby game means stamina is crucial.(ABC News: Bindi Bryce)

Tuqiri knows what it is like to play both rugby codes, having represented the Kangaroos and Wallabies.

He is enthusiastic about the hybrid game’s ability to bring together people from both sports, as well as touch football.

“It’s another type or form of rugby, rugby league, to keep everyone stimulated [in summer],” Tuqiri said.

“I don’t know if it’s an alternative (to other codes), but it’s certainly something that’s catered well for us here in the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia.

“It’s a bit of a party atmosphere down there [on the beach] as well.

“Hopefully, in the next couple of years, it can get bigger and better.”

Female players contesting a beach rugby game at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle.
The Beach 5s tournament featured women’s teams taking part.(ABC News: Bindi Bryce)

Tuqiri believes there is potential for international beach fives rugby competitions.

“There are a few associations in the Northern Hemisphere that we are affiliated with,” he said.

“At some point I reckon we will head up there and take a couple of teams. If you look online, you can see clips of people playing in Portugal, Spain, France and a couple of other countries.”

Retired rugby league international Willie Mason also took part in the Nobbys Beach tournament.

He gave beach fives rugby the tick of approval, although he admitted it took some time to get used to the rules.

“We had to adjust to the rules a bit quicker … it’s like union rules, there is no play-the-ball,” he said.

A group of male players contesting a beach rugby game at Nobbys Beach in Newcastle.
Beach rugby uses modified defensive and tackling rules.(ABC News: Bindi Brice)

Another former NRL player to hit the beach in Newcastle was Knights 1997 premiership winner Owen Craigie.

He enjoyed the game, but noted that playing on sand was “10 times harder” than on a rugby league field.

“I played it today and I’m buggered,” Craigie laughed.

“It’s the first time I played it. It’s different. It’s hard and I was puffing in the first couple of minutes.”

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I want to move to the South, I want the beach — and a liberal mindset. Where should I retire?

I’m 74, and my wife and I are looking to retire to a place full-time where it is warm all year long (over 60 degrees during the day in winter), has a liberal mind-set and is on the East Coast and on the ocean.

Right now we are spending six months on Fire Island, two months in Brooklyn and four months in Florida. We have been in Jensen Beach, but it is not exactly liberal-minded.

We are getting tired of moving around and would like a permanent spot. If we sell our place in Fire Island, then we’d like to buy something for around $400,000. 

What do you think? 


Dear Rick,

Left-leaning politics can be a tough request in the South. Even in Florida.

A glance at the 2020 Florida election results says your beachside options are pretty limited: the Jacksonville area, the three counties in the southeast corner (Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade) and, on the Gulf side, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Look deeper, though, and it’s not always so simple. Jacksonville’s mayor is a Republican, for example, and its beach communities are represented by a Republican in Congress. 

Readers may point out some blue waterfront areas surrounded by red, but the bottom line is you may need to compromise.

I won’t even get into hurricane threats and rising sea levels caused by climate change. As I’m sure you know, there’s the added cost of insurance against flood and wind damage.

Ocean spots don’t come cheap, so you may have to search hard for a spot with an ocean view for $400,000. But near the beach is doable. Don’t forget to take into account any HOA fees.

Here are three suggestions to get you started. 

Pineapple Grove is Delray Beach’s arts district.

Courtesy The Palm Beaches

Delray Beach, Florida

This walkable city of 70,000 between Boca Raton and Palm Beach attracted writers and artists a century ago and continues to have an arty vibe. The Cornell Art Museum showcases contemporary art, and the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is dedicated to discovering, collecting and sharing the African-American history and heritage of Palm Beach County. 

There is also the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, and you can turn to the 25-acre Delray Oaks Natural Area for shade and birds (it’s part of the Great Florida Bird and Wildlife Trail).

Winter highs are in the mid-70s, and summer highs average 90 degrees. Just over a quarter of the city’s residents are 65 or older.

Based on median listing prices from (owned, like MarketWatch, by News Corp.), you should be able to find a townhouse or condominium in your price range; a single-family home will be harder. Here’s what’s for sale now.

Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is the largest Art Deco neighborhood in the world.

AFP via Getty Images

Miami Beach 

The 2020 election showed us that the Miami area may not be as left-leaning as people thought. But if you want a more urban environment right on the beach, this city of 91,000 could be an option.

Miami Beach is more than South Beach, shopping and restaurants. Wander past the many Art Deco buildings, or book a tour with the Miami Design Preservation League. Saunter along the Miami Beach Walk, a pathway that runs along the eastern side, mostly just off the beach. 

Of course, Miami, with its own museums and other cultural events, are just a bridge away. Or you can drive to the coral reefs of Biscayne National Park and the wildlife of Everglades National Park. 

You’ll have the warmth: winter highs average in the mid-70s, and summer highs are in the upper 80s. It will be humid, but I figure you know that.

Given your budget, you’d likely be living in a condo. Here’s what’s on the market in Miami Beach now, according to

The view from the pier in Tybee Island.


Savannah, Georgia 

I’d like to say Tybee Island, but, honestly, for $400,000 it probably means a Savannah address. That doesn’t necessarily mean in the heart of the city, though; see Wilmington Island, for example, between downtown and Tybee. 

Charming Savannah, with 145,000 people and big-city cultural amenities, votes blue, and the beach — Tybee Island — can be less than 20 minutes away. It landed in sixth place on Livability’s 2018 list of best affordable places to live.

Tybee has just 3,000 residents and the mayor is elected in a nonpartisan race. It makes a lot of great beaches lists, including Dr. Beach’s 10 best in 2017 and No. 3 among Southern Living’s reader picks in 2020. I can understand why you may not want to rule it out, and you may be able to find a condo in your price range.

This is my pick if you’re willing to look beyond Florida, so winter weather may require some compromise. Average winter highs in Savannah are in the low 60s; average lows drop into the low 40s. It will get into the low 90s in the summer, so you might want an ocean breeze right then.

Here’s what’s on the market now in Tybee Island and in Savannah, also using listings on

Readers, where should Rick and his wife retire? Leave your suggestion in the comments section.

More retirement reading: I’d like to buy a home in a warm spot near the beach for $350,000 — where should I retire?

Also: My husband wants to be by the ocean, but I lived through Katrina and love lakes — where can we (semi) retire and rent for $2,000 a month?

Plus: I’m looking for a conservative small town with a bookstore, low taxes and a ski resort within an hour’s drive — where should I retire?

Finally: ‘Work and a few vacations each year is all we’ve done for the past 34 years’ — This couple has $2.6 million and no idea where to retire

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Fifth-seed Tommy Paul rolls to opening win at Delray Beach

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Second Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 22, 2020. Tommy Paul of the U.S. celebrates after winning the match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

January 8, 2021

Fifth-seeded Tommy Paul registered five aces on Thursday while cruising to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over South Korean Ji Sung Nam in the first round of the Delray Beach Open in Florida.

Paul will next face fellow American Sebastian Korda, who notched a 6-4, 6-4 victory over South Korea’s Soon Woo Kwon. Sixth-seeded Sam Querrey also advanced, beating Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4 in a clash of Americans.

Italy’s Gianluca Mager recorded a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over American wild-card Ryan Harrison, and Thiago Monteiro prevailed 6-3, 7-5 over fellow Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.

Antalya Open

Second-seeded David Goffin of Belgium converted 70.8 percent of his first-serve points while posting a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 triumph over France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a first-round match in Turkey.

Sixth-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia also moved on as he rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Italy’s Andrea Arnaboldi. Another Italian, Stefano Travaglia, upset seventh-seeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic 1-6, 6-4, 6-0.

No. 8 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan defeated Italy’s Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-3. Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori beat Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely 6-3, 7-6 (4) and Turkey wild card Altug Celikbilek beat Poland’s Kacper Zuk 7-6 (7), 7-5.

–Field Level Media

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‘Body bags’ line St Kilda beach in protest against alleged ‘genocide’ in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

Members of Melbourne’s ethnic Tigray community have donned mock body bags during a demonstration at St Kilda Beach to raise awareness over what they say is “genocide” occurring in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

Fighting between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — a guerrilla movement-turned-political party that dominated the federal government for nearly three decades until 2018 — broke out in Tigray in November.

The United Nations says more than 56,000 Ethiopian refugees have since fled into neighbouring Sudan — about 45 per cent of whom are thought to be children.

“The Tigray community in Melbourne has already started to hear of families that have been lost to this senseless war,” a statement from the Tigray Community Association in Victoria said.

It estimates 80 Australians are still stranded in the region.

The Australian Government has expressed “deep concern” over the conflict in Tigray.(ABC News: Michael Gleeson)

However the association said it met with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) officials on November 24 and “they had no idea how many Australians were stranded nor had an evacuation plan”.

“We contacted them on the 9th of December with no further development,” it said.

DFAT told the ABC it had been providing consular assistance to a number of Australians affected by the conflict, “including facilitating their return to Australia where requested”.

“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not comment on the circumstances of individuals,” a spokesperson said.

“Australia has expressed its deep concern to the Ethiopian Government about the conflict in the Tigray region and the humanitarian impact.

Contrary to Tigray Community Association in Victoria’s statement, the chargé d’affaires at the Ethiopian embassy in Canberra, Beryihun Degu Temesgen, recently told ABC all Australian nationals who wanted to be evacuated from Tigray had been.

The Ethiopian Government claimed victory in the conflict in early December, but the UN refugee agency and other humanitarian organisations say it is ongoing.

Dozens of Melbourne residents wear mock body bags as part of a protest at St Kilda beach
Tigrayan Australians say that the Government has not done enough to help Australians stranded in Ethiopia.(ABC News: Michael Gleeson)

A 23-year-old Australian woman recently spoke to the ABC about her experience of fleeing Tigray to London.

“We ask the Australian Government to make efforts to evacuate its citizens from the region,” the Tigray Community Association in Victoria added.

“[We] urge the Ethiopian Government for an immediate cessation of hostilities, allow for humanitarian assistance to be delivered to those in need, and to conduct all-inclusive political negotiations between political parties.”

Protests by ethnic Tigrayans took place elsewhere in Australia on Friday, including in Perth.

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Tigrayan Australians fear for the safety of family members in Ethiopia.

General says Eritrean forces are in Ethiopia

The protests were held as a senior Ethiopian military official confirmed the presence of troops from neighbouring Eritrea in the Tigray region, contradicting repeated denials from the Ethiopian Government.

Tigray refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia wait on a bus transporting them
The UN says almost half of those who have fled Ethiopia into Sudan are children.(AP: Nariman El-Mofty)

“We don’t want it; we personally feel as a defence force, it is our country,” Major General Belay Seyoum, head of the Ethiopian Army’s northern command, was quoted by the Addis Standard newspaper as saying.

“We know the problems that are being raised, it’s painful, but who let them in?” he said in translated remarks.

“My conscience does not allow me to say, ‘Eritrean Army come and help us!’ We can solve our own problems on our own and we do not lack the capacity to solve them.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with Eritrea that lasted two decades.

In early November 2020, however, he ordered airstrikes on Ethiopia’s own soil against the TPLF, which the Government considers a rebel junta.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responds to questions from members of parliament
Ethnic violence is a major challenge for Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.(AP: Mulugeta Ayene)

Critics have expressed concern over Mr Abiy’s increasingly oppressive rule, which has included the frequent detention of journalists.

A report from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission recently concluded Ethiopian security forces killed 75 people and injured a further 200 amid protests in June and July last year in the wake of the killing of a popular singer.


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‘Reckless’ Yorke Peninsula beach driver fined $1,300 after carrying eight children in ute tray

Police have fined a man who was seen in photos carrying eight children in the back of his ute along a South Australian country beach.

They allege the Nissan driver drove through the water at Wallaroo’s North Beach, on the Yorke Peninsula, while eight unrestrained children were in the ute tray on Monday afternoon.

Police said another man driving a Holden ute was “driving quickly” near people walking along the shore, causing water to splash up higher than the vehicle’s roof.

Police tracked down both drivers on Tuesday morning, with the help of Wallaroo locals, who posted photos of the incidents to social media.

“Drivers need to make better choices — if one of the children had fallen from the back of the utility, the consequences could have been tragic,” SA Police said.

The Nissan driver, a 29-year-old Para Hills man, was issued a $1,313 fine for having two or more children not wearing a seatbelt, riding in a part of a vehicle not for people and driving a vehicle without proper control.

He also received five demerit points.

The other driver, a 29-year-old man from Victoria, was issued a $287 on-the-spot fine for driving a vehicle without proper control.

‘The community are watching’

Copper Coast Mayor Roselyn Talbot said the drivers would not have been caught if not for the “diligence” of locals.

Ms Talbot said she was first made aware of the beach incidents when locals started posting photos to social media.

“The community are watching and are monitoring these sorts of things,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe, to be honest, that people were so reckless towards children they would love and care for.”

She said the behaviour was disappointing but not a common occurrence.

“The Wallaroo beach is traditionally a family-friendly beach where people like to park their cars, be able to sit, the children play cricket, and I think that we watch out for each other.

“I think the fact these people have been caught will discourage people from behaving recklessly again.”

SA Police said motorists should remember that road rules applied equally to beaches.

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Huge sunfish washes up on Tasmanian beach

An unusual fish is causing a stir among beachgoers after washing up on Tasmania’s East Coast.

Nick Cain has been visiting Friendly Beaches at Freycinet National Park for over twenty years, spending time at his family’s shack nearby.

“We tend to go to that beach a fair bit to go surfing and we warm up by walking or running down the beach between the sets,” he said.

“Usually you see a dolphin, or a seal, or a craypot or two that’s washed up on the shore — but this was very odd, very very strange.”

Sunfish are large enough to be a hazard to small boats.(Facebook: Coal Oil Point Reserve)

Nick and his friend came across the fish one morning in early December and initially thought it was a large stingray.

“It actually took a bit of backwards-and-forwards with my mate about what species we thought it was before we set on sunfish”.

Two men handle a giant sunfish.
This sunfish was found by fisherman at Coorong National Park, South Australia in 2019.(AAP: Linette Grzelak)

There are five different types of sunfish common to Australian waters.

University of Tasmania researcher Neville Barrett poses in front of a ship.
University of Tasmania researcher Neville Barrett said sunfish are “always very special to see”.(Marine Biodiversity Hub: Asher Flatt)

They are known for their huge dorsal fins and strangely shaped bodies.

They are considered the largest bony fish in the world — weighing up to 2,500 kilograms and growing to three metres in length.

Nick and his friend were shocked when they tried to look underneath the fish — they couldn’t move it.

“It weighed an absolute ton — it was at least two metres by one metre,” he said.

A flat round fish lying on its side with a fin
Sunfish frequent ocean currents but occasionally come into coastal areas where they may get trapped.(Supplied: David Torres)

Scientists say the fish are moderately common despite their odd appearance — washing up on Tasmanian beaches a few times each year.

Neville Barrett from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies said the species swim on ocean currents but occasionally come into coastal areas.

“They can’t find their way back to the ocean and just get trapped in those shallow waters and eventually end up washing ashore,” he said.

A grey fish fin sticks out of the blue water.
Sunfish are sometimes mistaken for sharks because of their large dorsal fin.(Supplied: Clinton Duffy)

But Professor Barrett added the sunfish “don’t wash up in their hundreds or anything like that”.

“They tend to be a solitary ocean-going species.”

He said the most common spot to find them in Tasmania is on the Tasman Peninsula around Norfolk Bay.

A sunfish washed up in shallow water, with men looking on.
The sunfish are of the family molidae — and are also known as mola mola.(AAP: Linette Grzelak)

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Bushfire threatens lives, homes in southern Perth suburbs of Postans and Kwinana Beach

A bushfire is threatening lives and homes in the southern Perth suburbs of Postans and Kwinana Beach.

The warning is in place for people in an area bounded by Anketell Road, Rockingham Road, Thomas Road and McLaughlan Road in Postans, and the eastern part of Kwinana Beach in the City of Kwinana.

Authorities are urging people to act immediately to survive.

The alert level was upgraded when the fire jumped Abercrombie Road on Sunday afternoon.

The blaze started near the intersection of Thomas Road and Gilmore Avenue in Orelia.

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Beach conversion complete as ‘farm boy’ wins Sawtell honour

Fifty years ago, a self-described “farm boy” from Ebor would cruise down dirt tracks with his family in an old FJ Holden, ready to be burnt to a crisp by the summer sun on a seaside holiday in Sawtell.

Now that farm boy, Mick Migavigan, has been recognised as the Sawtellian of the Year, for his tireless work for the Surf Life Saving Club and beyond.

The Sawtellian of the Year and the inaugural Young Sawtellian of the Year were announced on Friday at the 101st Sawtell Super Fun Day with Mr Migavigan and 15-year-old Margaret McConnachie taking out top honours.

The New Year’s Day tradition recognises those who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of the town.

“I am giving away my age a bit but I can remember coming down to Sawtell and the trees in the middle (of the main street) were half the size,” he said.

“As a kid coming from Ebor – to see the beach was just so foreign then. It was an adventure you know, coming down the mountain, I don’t think it was sealed in those days. 

“And my love of the village grew.” 

Sawtellian of the year Mick Migavigan at the Sawtell Super Fun Day 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Admitting to some nerves before the big announcement because he “had an inkling” something was up, Mr Migavigan said it was quite an honour to be recognised for his work, but emphasised his efforts through the years not done alone.

Mr Migavigan has been a volunteer at the Surf Life Saving Club for decades and was instrumental in founding a local morning swimming group, which is 30 years strong, and starting the triathlon club.

And speaking with a warm smile and his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, Mr Migavigan said there was something else that set him apart.

“Everybody is a Sawtellian of the Year because they are all helping people and doing their bit (especially through the pandemic), but I am bit eccentric and have a funny hat so I make sure I get seen doing these things.”

“If you mow the lawn, do it when they can hear it, you see – and then they know you are around.”

The first ever Young Sawtellian of the Year, Margaret McConnachie, has been training with the Sawtell Surf Club since she was just five years old, becoming a volunteer patrol member four years ago.

She has also gained a reputation as a fierce competitor, adding a number of Surf Life Saving and Iron Woman accolades to her list of sporting achievements.

Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Young Sawtellian of the Year Margaret McConnachie. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Ms McConnachie said making the Under-17 Iron Woman final in Burleigh Heads was a real highlight given she was just 15, and she also took out first and third place in events at the SLS Country Championships.

She laughs when discussing her rigorous training schedule, and said “she would hope” she is a lot fitter than the average teenager, singling out her coaches, Greg Russell, Shaun Golding and Kim Roach for helping her get to where she was.

Ms McConnachie is also a serious competitor out of the water, playing rugby league with the Sawtell Panthers and Rugby Union with the SCU Marlins and was looking forward to building on last year’s work.

“(Winning the award) is pretty special,” she said.

“I love the surf club, I grew up in it and it has always been my favourite.

“We are out in the water every single day training and getting ready for competitions.”

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Driver charged with causing death of cyclist hit by car at Henley Beach

A cyclist has become the first person to die on South Australia’s roads this year after he was hit by a car in Adelaide’s western suburbs early this morning.

The 60-year-old Brighton man was struck by the car on Seaview Road at Henley Beach and died at the scene, with police called to the area just before 7:30am.

The driver of the car — a 51-year-old Grange man — has been charged.

SA Police said the circumstances were still being investigated.

“Unfortunately the cyclist has died and that’s the first fatality for 2021,” Acting Assistant Commissioner John Venditto said.

“It happened just after 7:00am.

“As to the facts and circumstances — that will come out later once the investigators have had a chance to do their job.”

The driver has been arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving and aggravated driving without due care.

He was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for a health assessment, and then to the City Watch House.

Details surrounding the crash are still being investigated.(ABC News: Simon Christie)

Debris from the bike was strewn across Seaview Road, which was closed between Marlborough Road and Reedie Street.

Police are expecting roads to be busier this holiday season, and have again reminded people to take care on the roads.

“I would anticipate that there would be more traffic on the roads because people can’t go interstate, they’re going to be travelling more [within SA],” the acting assistant commissioner said.

Last year there were 95 deaths and 695 serious injuries on South Australia’s roads, compared with 114 deaths in 2019.

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Neymar New Year’s Eve party, Instagram models, influencers fly in to Rio for beach event with PSG, Brazil striker

Rumours of a giant year-end party organised by Neymar in Brazil in the midst of the COVID pandemic have revived his image as an eternal spoiled child.

Despite vigorous denials by the football star’s entourage, Brazilian media has reported he is behind a seven-day, non-stop rave for 500 guests, including a bevy of models who have begun announcing their arrivals on social media.

A disused hangar was purchased to hide VIP helicopters and private jets while a $10 million rented mansion has been soundproofed for an event dubbed locally as Neymarpalooza.

The Sun reported models Kiki Passo, Michelle Nevius and Jessica Bartlett flew in from Miami, allegedly invited by 28-year-old Brazil striker Neymar and his pals via Instagram Direct.

Meanwhile, Brazilians Camila Remedy and Fernanda Brum are said to have arrived at his mansion on Monday by private jet from Porto Alegre. They posted: “Let’s go by jet to end the year with glamour.”

Brazilian influencer and model Ana Liz Bittencourt also showed pictures of herself wearing the wristband that guarantees entry to the event.

Neymar, who was sold from Barcelona to PSG for a world record $333 million transfer fee in 2017, has been slammed by many in his homeland, which is one of the countries hit hardest by COVID.

Human rights lawyer Augusto de Arruda Botelho tweeted: “The idiot trophy for the day goes to Neymar for his five-day party.”

Juca Kfouri, a veteran sports journalist, went further, speaking of Neymar’s “criminal irresponsibility” in a podcast from the UOL website.

“Not only is there nothing in his head, but he is irresponsible, this is a very bad example for Brazil,” said Kfouri, recalling that the 28-year-old striker has often appeared alongside far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the importance of the virus.

Earlier this week an agency named Fabrica said in a statement it had organised a party but didn’t mention Neymar.

“Agencia Fabrica clarifies that it is the creator and producer of New Year’s Eve event in the Costa Verde region, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, which will receive approximately 150 people,” it read.

“The event will take place in compliance with all health standards determined by public agencies.

“The company also clarifies that the private event, with exclusive access for guests and without ticket sales, happens with all licenses from the competent bodies necessary for its realisation.”

The glamour striker’s reps said he was invited but not involved.

“It’s a matter for the agency and it has nothing to do with Neymar,” Neymar’s lawyers told AFP. “We have no information about such an event.”

Neymar, normally active on social media, is keeping quiet. So too are his main sponsors Puma, who wrenched him away from Nike in September. Contacted by AFP, the German sports-goods manufacturer refused to comment.

The refusal to deny the party is taking place has brought a reaction from Brazilian media.

“It would be much simpler if Neymar went on social networks and said he had nothing to do with it. LeBron James, Lewis Hamilton, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo don’t throw any parties,” said Galvao Bueno of TV Globo, on Monday evening.

After a series of seasons marred by injuries, failures in big matches and complaints about his diving when tackled, Neymar helped Paris Saint-Germain reach their first Champions League final this year.

His image received another lift when he and Kylian Mbappe led the Paris Saint-Germain players off the field after a match official aimed a racist remark at a coach of opposing Basaksehir three weeks ago during a Champions League match.

“His image was improving, but has been severely damaged again, even though 2020 was one of his best years,” sports marketing consultant Erich Beting told AFP.

State law in Rio de Janeiro does not prohibit parties in private residences. The city council of Mangaratiba, the seaside resort where Neymar owns a villa he uses for parties, said in a statement that it “did not have the power” to intervene.

“The problem with Neymar, who is used to throwing parties for his birthdays, is that he is sending back this idea of a guy who is out of touch,” Jerome Neveu, founding president of Advent, a French consultancy firm specialising in celebrity marketing, told AFP in Paris.

“He’s very popular and has a lot of followers on social networks, but he’s also quite divisive. There are people who are huge fans who will forgive him almost anything,” said Neveu. “On the other hand there are those who do not forgive him anything and call on him to set an example.”

– AFP, The Sun

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