Lucas Moura criticises lack of refereeing protection for best players in Brazil

The teenage star believes that tolerance of foul play begins at Brazil's youth levels, and defended himself and Neymar from accusations of simulation
Sao Paulo's teenage star Lucas Moura has spoken out against what he believes is a lack of protection Brazil's most talented players receive from referees, also maintaining that he and Santos striker Neymar do not dive to win fouls.

The 19-year-old Brazil international spoke out to add his weight to a row which has been growing in the South American country. Selecao team-mate Neymar had previously criticised the reluctance of referees to blow for fouls, a sentiment that was reflected by Lucas' coach with the Tricolor Emerson Leao.

Commenting on Saturday to Estadao, the young midfielder admitted that the lack of protection from officials was a problem, and one that starts right at the lowest levels of the game.

"Sometimes it was even worse at youth football. The game was more rushed and there wasn't so much tactical discipline. Besides all that there weren't so many cameras, there were less people watching. And you end up getting hit more often," Lucas explained.

"On the other hand, the professional game is more forceful and there is more chance of ending up injured.

"The referees do not protect you much. This is not an appeal, but whether it is a skilful player or a stronger defender you have to protect them when there is a foul. On-field justice must be preserved."

The youngster continued to defend himself and Neymar against accusations that they go to ground too easily, arguing that the physical disparity between the diminutive stars and Brazil's defenders meant it was inevitable.

"Sometimes it is forgotten that Neymar and I, for example, are going to go down because we do not have the same strength as a defender or midfielder. People think we are diving or playing the referees, and I don't think they are aware of the reality."

Lucas is currently fighting the Paulista Championship with Sao Paulo, who lead rivals Corinthians by three points having played one game more.