SAO PAULO (AFP) - Brazil's star footballer Neymar is at the centre of a new controversy after several Brazilian media reported that he is organising a huge New Year's Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic, a claim his lawyers denied.
Acelmo Goes, a columnist for the O Globo newspaper, wrote that the Paris Saint-Germain forward is hosting 500 people for a week-long party at his luxury beachside mansion near Rio de Janeiro that started on Saturday and will last until New Year's Day.
Neymar, who is no stranger to controversies over his parties, allegedly even installed soundproofing equipment to try to avoid bothering his neighbors.
Leo Dias, a columnist for the Metropoles website who is renowned for his scoops on celebrities, even named the artists due to perform at Neymar's party, such as Ludmilla and Wesley Safadao.
Guests' mobile phones are allegedly due to be confiscated on the door to prevent any evidence finding its way onto social media.
Brazil has suffered the second-largest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the world with more than 191,000, while 7.4 million people have contracted the virus.
A specialist events agency, Agencia Fabrica, released a statement confirming it had been contracted for a New Year's event in the Costa Verde region where Neymar's villa is located "that will host around 150 people... while respecting all the health rules determined by the public bodies". But Neymar's lawyers denied a party had been planned or that the Agencia Fabrica event was related to the football star.
"No! This is a Fabrica event. It is not related to Neymar," they told AFP.
Neymar's villa is in Mangaratiba, a small town in an area of luxury seaside resorts in Rio de Janeiro state.
The local town hall has pleaded with its 41,000 inhabitants not to hold end of year parties and has erected barriers to prevent people congregating.
"We don't have any information about this party," the town hall said in a statement sent to AFP.
Neymar, who has not played since Dec 13 when he injured his ankle against Lyon, has not commented on the party and in recent days has posted pictures of his family on social media without commentaries.
His Mangaratiba mansion is located on a 10,000 square-metre plot of land that includes a heliport, sports pitches, spa, sauna, massage parlour, gymnasium and dining areas.
It is where he previously spent his time recovering from injuries and also where he headed from March to June when the coronavirus was raging in France leading to the suspension of professional football.