Neymar, third highest paid footballer, was approved to be paid $120 for welfare supposed for underpaid Brazilian workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, in an apparent case of identity theft, local media reports Thursday.
The Paris Saint-Germain star’s name, date of birth and Brazilian ID number were used to register for the 600-real stimulus payment from the federal government, news site UOL reported.
The emergency bailouts are supposed to assist Brazilians employed in the informal sector – such as cleaners or cooks – whose jobs and incomes have become obsolete with the lockdown measures to curtail the disease.
The Brazilian star’s contract at PSG is estimated at $95.5 million in earnings this year and he holds the record for most expensive football transfer in history, at 222 million euros. With this, Neymar does not qualify.
However, according to UOL, the application in his name “was initially approved and scheduled for payment… before being frozen and placed ‘under evaluation’ due to indications it failed to meet the requirements.”
The striker’s communications staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.
UOL reported his staff said Neymar “obviously never applied for this benefit, and does not know who would have done so.”
Brazil is one of the worst countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It has the third-highest death toll globally, at more than 34,000, behind only the US and Britain.
Neymar, 28, is seeing out the pandemic at his condo in Mangaratiba, a resort town close to Rio de Janeiro.