RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazil's 2-0 friendly win over Qatar in Brasilia on Wednesday came at a heavy cost after they lost Neymar for this month's Copa America because of an ankle ligament injury.
The 27-year-old forward limped off in the 17th minute after he appeared to twist his right ankle and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) later confirmed that he would miss the tournament, where Chile are defending champions.
"Neymar was evaluated and underwent scans that confirmed a ligament rupture in the ankle," the CBF said in a statement. "Due to the seriousness of the injury, Neymar will not recover in time to participate in Copa America in Brazil."
The injury capped a horrible few days for the Paris Saint-Germain striker, who was stripped of the Brazil captaincy last month and was last weekend accused of rape in a case that has dominated the headlines in his homeland.
Yesterday, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported Mastercard saying it was suspending its use of Neymar in advertising until the situation is "cleared up".
Brazil were already leading 1-0 courtesy of Richarlison's 16th-minute header when Neymar departed and Gabriel Jesus added the second eight minutes later from close range.
But all attention was focused on Neymar, the world's most expensive player and a polarising figure.
He has suffered several serious injuries dating back to 2014, when a brutal knee in the back from Colombian Juan Camilo Zuniga kept him out of Brazil's World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany.
Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, a football fan who attended Wednesday's game, was pictured with a smiling Neymar as the player received treatment in a hospital.
The leader's good wishes for a speedy recovery were to no avail, though, and Brazil will face Bolivia in their Copa America opener next Friday in Sao Paulo without their best player.