'Neymar hats killed Bernard and Brazil'

The nation's new general co-ordinator, Gilmar Rinaldi, slammed the choice to send well wishes to the Barcelona forward when their focus should have been on Germany
Brazil doomed their World Cup bid and "killed" Bernard's chances of impressing by wearing hats in support of Neymar, according to the nation's new general co-ordinator.

Neymar was Brazil's star player as the host nation reached the semi-finals of the World Cup but he picked up a back injury in their last-eight win over Colombia, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

In the build up to the Selecao's clash with Germany in the last four, in which Luiz Felipe Scolari's men were humiliated 7-1, many of the team adorned hats with the phrase 'força Neymar' showing their support for their sidelined compatriot.

However, World Cup 1994 winner Gilmar Rinaldi - brought into Brazil's management following a reshuffle behind the scenes last month, along with returning coach Dunga - was critical of the squad's decision to fawn over Neymar.

Bernard was chosen to fill in for the Barcelona forward against Joachim Low's men and Rinaldi is adamant the actions of the squad had an adverse effect on the player.

"Brazil were missing our best player, we were experiencing a difficult time and we were about to face Germany - our most difficult game to date in that World Cup... I would not have agreed to an action like those hats," he told SporTV.

"What must Bernard have thought going in for him? How must he have felt? It's like saying: 'It's your turn, you will win the game for us.' The game was already difficult enough.

"It was a cute homage, and Neymar is a wonderful lad whom I have nothing against, but giving Neymar strength at that time was wrong. It should have been about the collective.

"On a matchday, we needed warriors to be focused. That's not why we lost, but the spirit needed wasn't there. The hats killed Bernard."

Brazil will be hoping to bounce back from their anticlimactic World Cup campaign in next summer's Copa America.