Neymar Jr. Hesitates to Return to 2026 World Cup

Brazilian soccer star, Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., reports his hesitation in returning to the next World Cup in 2026 after Brazil’s recent elimination against Croatia. 

Neymar conveyed his doubts about returning to the next Cup in a brief interview with a Brazilian news channel after the team’s loss. “I’ve no clear ideas yet – I can’t guarantee anything.” 

Speculation regarding Neymar’s leave started in a documentary filmed a year before the cup in 2021. Neymar states in the documentary, “I think it’s my last cup. I see it as my last because I don’t know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football anymore.” 

The documentary highlights Neymar’s dedication to the sport with him saying that he would “do anything to turn up well” and do anything to win for his country. Because of these two contradictory statements, fans were left uneasy but sure that Neymar would return to the next cup and fulfill his dream. 

Being favored to win the cup, the Brazilian team and their fans worldwide were left devastated after their elimination in the quarterfinals against Croatia. “The pre-tournament favorites lost 4-2 in a penalty shootout to Croatia after playing out a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes,” reported by a sports news website who tracked the game. Brazil’s only goal scored by Neymar himself, allowed him to “join” former Brazilian soccer star Edson Arante do Nascimento, also known as Pelé’s “77 goals as Brazil’s joint all-time leading scorer.”

With a miss from Brazilian player, Marcos Aoás Corrêa or Marquinhos and a save from Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, the penalty shootout did not last long. “Marquinhos hit the post with Brazil’s fourth kick, after Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Luka Modric and Mislav Orsic had all scored for Croatia”, the website added. 

Neymar’s absence during the penalty shootout struck fans by surprise and is widely used as the reason for the team’s loss. “He is the fifth and decisive penalty taker” Brazilian coach Tite explains his reasoning in placing Neymar last in the penalty lineup. 

The elimination of Brazil in the World Cup takes quite a toll on Neymar as he describes in an Instagram post, “I am psychologically destroyed” after the game. Due to the mass uncertainty circulating about his return to the 2026 World Cup, it is not clear whether to confirm or deny if Neymar’s chase for the cup has just ended or just begun. 

Featured image credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS