June 2, 2018 / 6:52 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer: Brazil coach criticizes Mastercard's 'food for goals' offer

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil coach Tite criticized team sponsor Mastercard on Saturday, telling the credit card company that an offer of charitable donations in return for goals by Neymar and Lionel Messi was not helpful in a team sport.

Soccer Football - Brazil Press Conference - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - June 2, 2018 Brazil coach Tite during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

Mastercard, which has been one of Brazil’s main sponsors since 2012, last week announced they would donate the equivalent value of 10,000 meals to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) every time Messi or Neymar scored a goal for either club or country. The offer lasts until March 2020.

Tite, however, made his unease plain.

“Mastercard, I am going to tell you something,” he told reporters at a news conference in Liverpool ahead of Brazil’s friendly with Croatia on Sunday.

“This donation to charity is very nice. It’s beautiful and it’s grand. Just as it would be a grand gesture you giving food if any Argentina or Brazil player was to score a goal. We work here as a team and these gestures can be a bit frustrating. That’s my suggestion.”

The comments, reported on Brazilian web site UOL, followed criticism of the campaign on social media, and come in spite of support from both players.

Messi said he was “proud to be a part of this campaign” and Neymar said it was an example of how the traditional rivals “can do great things when we come together”.

Both men head to the World Cup in Russia this month as the undisputed standouts of their squads and both are aiming for the winners’ medal that would cap their careers to date.

Brazil have been drawn alongside Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia, while Argentina play Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in the group stage.

Brazil play Croatia at Anfield on Sunday in their penultimate World Cup warm-up match. The five-times champions play Austria in Vienna on June 10 before heading to Russia.

Editing by Clare Fallon

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