RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian star Neymar lost his national team's captaincy for the Copa America to veteran Dani Alves, in another move suggesting the striker will be under heavy pressure to deliver the title of the South American tournament on home soil.
Brazil's football confederation, CBF, said in a statement on Monday that 36-year-old defender Alves, a close friend of Neymar's who plays with him at Paris Saint-Germain, will start wearing the armband in the friendly against Qatar on June 5 in Brasilia.
The Copa America will be played between June 14 and July 7, and Brazil's first match will be against Bolivia in Sao Paulo on opening day.
CBF also said Brazil coach Tite informed Neymar of his decision on Saturday, the day the Paris Saint-Germain striker arrived at the national team's training ground outside Rio de Janeiro. The soccer body also said Alves will only join the group on Tuesday, but was informed on Sunday of his new status.
Tite, Neymar and Dani Alves have not talked about the decision yet.
The 27-year-old Neymar was his national team's captain since the elimination in the World Cup quarterfinals against Belgium in 2018. Brazil's coach said then he wanted to give more responsibilities to the striker, who is under criticism from Brazil fans since his unconvincing performances in Russia.
Tite's decision comes after Neymar's altercation with a fan at the French Cup final on April 27. The striker apologized for the altercation after PSG lost on penalties to Rennes, but that was not enough to keep the armband. Brazil's coach has been under pressure since to take away the captaincy from Neymar.
New captain Alves won Copa America in 2007, and scored a goal in the 3-0 victory against Argentina in the final. He has the highest number of caps on Brazil with 138.
The right-back was expected to be Brazil's captain during the World Cup in Russia, but he suffered a left knee injury that didn't allow him to play.
Brazil's preparations for Copa America were halted on Monday, with players resuming training Tuesday afternoon.
Brazil is in Group A with Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru.