Tite praises Neymar for Messi embrace: ‘There is greatness in defeat’

The Brazil head coach was critical of CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez while he praised Neymar for his show of sportsmanship.

Agency News Contributor

Updated - 11 July 2021 9:36 pm

Brazil head coach Tite has praised superstar Neymar for his show of sportsmanship to Lionel Messi after his side's 1-0 Copa America final defeat to Argentina on Saturday. Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Angel Di Maria scored the winner in the 22nd minute at the Maracana as Argentina lifted its first Copa since 1993 as Brazil relinquished the crown they won in 2019.

The Brazil boss was clearly disappointed with the result but spoke positively about Neymar's grace after acknowledging Messi's achievement in winning his maiden piece of silverware with Argentina. The superstar pair are close friends from their four years together at Barcelona.

"There is greatness in defeat and in recognising the rival," Tite said. "Perhaps, the image that was seen between Messi and Neymar after the game is a message that we have to give."

Tite was less positive about Copa America organisers, identifying CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez for criticism at the hastily organised event. Copa America 2021 was originally planned to be played in Colombia and Argentina but hastily re-arranged due to political and COVID-19 issues with Brazil confirmed as hosts in May.

The defeat was the first time the Selecao have failed to win a Copa America played in Brazil, winning all five previous tournaments on home soil.

"The organisation of the Copa America left a lot to be desired," Tite said after the final defeat. "The quality of the pitches [left a lot to be desired]. We almost lost Everton in training. We went to train, the grass locked up and he had a dislocated finger. In a short time it is impossible to organise a competition of this magnitude."

"I'm specifically talking about the person in charge, Alejandro (Dominguez), president of CONMEBOL, of having the organisation of the competition over a short period of time."

Tite had been outspoken about the quality of pitches during the tournament, in particular Estadio Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro where Brazil played four games.

Brazil's participation at the Copa was in doubt pre-tournament as the players opposed the relocation amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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