Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticised football star Neymar's support of far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, accusing the player of being motivated by a debt "pardon."
Last month, Neymar endorsed hardline conservative Bolsonaro as he fights to win reelection in his October 30 run-off battle against leftist ex-leader Lula.
"Neymar has the right to choose whoever he wants to be president. I think he is afraid that if I win the election I will find out what Bolsonaro pardoned from his income tax debt," Lula said in a YouTube interview on Tuesday.
"I think that's why he's afraid of me," Lula added, laughing, when asked about Neymar's support for the president.
Expectations of a close contest have pushed both sides to intensify their attacks before the runoff, with Lula the frontrunner after the first-round election on October 2.
"Obviously, Bolsonaro made a deal with [Neymar's] father. He now has an income tax problem in Spain," Lula said, alluding to a favourable ruling the player obtained in a tax evasion trial in Brazil, as well as the charges he faces in Barcelona for alleged irregularities in his 2013 club transfer.
The Workers' Party (PT) leader added that it was ultimately a problem for the country's tax collection agency, and not him.
This week, Lula secured the backing of another football legend. Former Brazilian player and Paris Saint-Germain star Rai gave Lula a silent shout-out at a gala awards ceremony in Paris, mentioning his country's elections before flashing an "L" sign with his right hand.
Lula has 53 percent of the vote heading into the October 30 run-off, to 47 percent for Bolsonaro, according to a poll released Friday by the Datafolha institute.