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Neymar says he's not bothered by boos from crowd, expects more as Brazil advances at Olympics

08/05/2012 10:22 EDT | Updated 10/05/2012 05:12 EDT
MANCHESTER, England - Neymar is hearing more reaction from the crowd over his perceived dives than his goals at the London Games.

The Brazilian star hasn't received a very warm reception from the British crowds so far but says he is just fine with that.

He was jeered throughout Brazil's win over Honduras in the men's quarterfinals on Saturday, especially after a foul on him led to a controversial red card to a Honduran defender.

It wasn't the first time Neymar heard from the British fans and he doesn't expect it to be the last. He knows the taunting will likely continue when Brazil faces South Korea in the semifinals on Tuesday, but says it will still not affect his game.

"I'm not changing the way I play because of how the crowd reacts," Neymar said. "It's normal for the fans to boo at times, but I never think about that. I have my mind in the right place and I'll do whatever I have to do to help Brazil win. They will probably boo me again but it will not affect me."

Brazil coach Mano Menezes said it's a cultural matter and the player will have to get used to it, especially when playing in Britain.

"Fans have their own view of how football should be played, and when a player doesn't fit in their cultural preference they will let him know," Menezes said. "Neymar will just have to deal with that so he can keep helping Brazil as he has been doing so far."

Neymar had heard from the British crowd even before the Olympics began, being jeered in a warmup against the host just a few days ahead of the tournament. It happened again in the Olympic opener against Egypt when fans in Cardiff, Wales, felt the Brazilian was diving too much to try to earn fouls.

Neymar, who early in his career rejected a multimillion dollar offer to play for Chelsea, had already had problems in a friendly match against Scotland at Emirates Stadium last year, hearing from the fans for allegedly faking injuries.

Most of the taunting against Neymar in Newcastle began after Honduras defender Wilmer Crisanto was red-carded for fouling the Brazilian in the 33rd minute at St. James Park. It appeared a foul but Neymar seemed to go down a bit harder than needed. It didn't help that the crowd had already been rooting for the underdog Hondurans from the beginning.

Neymar has always denied accusations that he tries to get fouls by diving and says that he goes down a lot because he is hit a lot. He said the referee wouldn't have sent Crisanto out of the game if it hadn't been a foul.

"The only time I went down, the guy was sent off," he said.

Neymar also was criticized by Egypt coach Hany Ramzy after the teams' Olympic opener. Ramzy said that Neymar will improve only after he starts playing more for the team instead of trying to show off his skills.

"I always play to help my team, I don't play for myself," the 20-year-old Brazilian said at the time.

Neymar is touted as the future of Brazilian football and came into the London Games with expectations to lead the team to its first gold medal, the only significant football title Brazil hasn't won.

He has had a significant participation so far, scoring three goals in four matches and creating many of the team's scoring chances. He had a lacklustre performance against Egypt but improved significantly in the games after that.

He was mostly cheered by the crowd when he played well in Brazil's victories against Belarus and New Zealand in the group stage.

Brazil entered the Olympic tournament as a gold-medal favourite because it was one of the few teams bringing most of its top players. It got into an even better position after Spain, Uruguay and Britain were eliminated ahead of the semifinals. Neymar and many of his teammates playing in the under-23 tournament will also likely be in the senior team trying to give Brazil the World Cup title at home in 2014.

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