Copa America: Brazil’s Tite makes first sub, dropping Neymar in favour of Alves as captain

May 28 – Neymar has been stripped of Brazil’s captaincy in the build-up to this summer’s Copa America by the country’s coach Tite. He will be replaced by Daniel Alves.

Brazil’s biggest star arrived this weekend at Brazil’s base camp in Teresopolis, a mountainous stretch 50 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, to join up with the Brazil squad as the five-time world champions prepare for the South American championship on home soil, but coach Tite informed Neymar that he would not lead out Brazil as captain this summer.

“Daniel Alves will be captain of the Brazilian national team in the friendly matches against Qatar and Honduras and in Copa America Brazil 2019,” the CBF said in a statement.

Pressure had been growing on Tite to act on Neymar’s ill discipline in recent months. The French FA banned the Brazilian for three matches for hitting a fan after PSG’s French Cup final loss against Stade Rennes. He was reportedly also involved in a bust up in the PSG dressing room. Neymar has increasingly looked a frustrated figure after the World Cup when he invoked global scorn for his histrionics on the field.

Previously, Tite had left Douglas Costa out of the Brazil squad for disciplinary reasons. Last September he named Neymar a permanent captain, but Tite has now buckled under public pressure as the heat is turned up on his position. He became the first Brazil coach to stay on after a World Cup since Claudio Coutinho in 1978, despite the country’s early exit, and knows that he must win the Copa America to retain his job.

Tite will be relying on the experience of Alves to martial his team to that end. At 36, the veteran left-back has 138 caps for Brazil. He will also carry the armband in friendlies against Qatar in Brasilia and Honduras in Porto Alegre, which will serve as the final warmup games before Brazil kick off the Copa America on June 14 against Bolivia in Sao Paulo. The tournament will finish on July 7 with the final in Rio de Janeiro.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600938148labto1600938148ofdlr1600938148owedi1600938148sni@o1600938148fni1600938148