Brazil's star footballer Neymar has prompted outrage in Brazil after media reported that he's organised a huge New Year's Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Acelmo Goes, a columnist for the O Globo newspaper, initially claimed 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.
'DISGUSTING': Uproar as WAG's photo sparks ugly backlash
Neymar, who is no stranger to enjoying a party, has come under heavy criticism since details of the event came to light in a Rio de Janeiro newspaper over the weekend.
But, while party organisers said only 150 people would be at the celebration, they appeared to confirm the reports the festive celebrations would go ahead.
"The event will take place in compliance with all the sanitary norms as determined by public bodies," the Fabrica agency said in a statement.
The multi-day event will be held in Mangaratiba, around 105km down the coast from Rio.
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.
Neymar, who is no stranger to controversies over his parties, allegedly even installed soundproofing equipment to try to avoid bothering his neighbours.
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.
Representatives for Neymar denied the rumours, releasing a statement saying there would be "no party" in Neymar's villa.
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."
Outrage over Neymar reports
A columnist in Brazil, Juca Kfouri, hit out at Neymar claiming it would be an ‘abhorrent insult’ after the horrific toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the country.
“Organising such a party is … the most abhorrent insult, it’s an affront to 190,000 grieving families, it’s to dance funk music on the corpses all the way to the grave, it’s to sneer at the health professionals working in hazardous conditions to control Covid-19,” Kfouri wrote, according to The Guardian.
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 hasn't played since December 13 when he injured his ankle against Lyon, hasn't 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 10,000m2 plot of land that includes a heliport, sports pitches, spa, sauna, massage parlour, gymnasium and dining areas.
It's 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.
Neymar tested positive for the coronavirus following the end of PSG’s Champions League campaign a few months ago, which they lost to Bayern Munich in the final.
Neymar visited Ibiza in a post-season trip with a number of other PSG players.