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Andre Akkari: "Neymar Jr. Likes Poker More than Me, It’s Unbelievable"
Earlier this month, Brazil’s booming poker scene got another huge boost when PokerStars signed Neymar Jr. as a brand ambassador.
“Neymar loves poker you know,” said Andre Akkari. “He likes poker more than me, it’s unbelievable. He plays every day and he likes to understand the game.
“Even his dog’s name is Poker. He loves poker, he loves it, he’s completely passionate about it.”
Akkari, whose name is synonymous with poker in Brazil and is good friends with soccer phenom Ronaldo, quickly connected with Neymar.
“I met him in Barcelona,” Akkari said. “We started a relationship and now we message each other all the time. He keeps asking me how I’m doing here and about the Colossus. Neymar was so excited about the Colossus.”
Unfortunately, Nemyar Jr. couldn’t play the Colossus since he and the rest of FC Barcelona are preparing to face Juventus in the UEFA Champions League Final.
The final takes place on June 6th but Akkari doubts Neymar will make an appearance this WSOP.
No Neymar this WSOP
"Neymar has so many appointments and sponsors in Barcelona,” Akkari said.
“I don’t think he’s going to have enough time to come down here, but I hope so.”
While the WSOP might not catch a glimpse of the Brazilian soccer star this summer, Akkari will bring the poker to Neymar before the season’s over.
“We’re going to meet in August for EPT Barcelona,” Akkari said.
“We’re going to have poker classes in his house with some friends of Daniel Alves. I think it’s going to be nice.”
One topic the Brazilians are sure to discuss is the recent FIFA corruption scandal.
“It just happened so I haven’t had time to ask Neymar or Ronaldo about it,” Akkari said.
“When I meet them I’m going to ask, but I’m pretty sure that they are really happy.”
Akkari himself was so ecstatic he had to thank the first American he saw.
“When I got here, at immigration, I told the guys, ‘Hey, thank you’ and they asked why,” Akkari said.
“I told them it was because the USA took down FIFA. I told them I had to thank some Americans and they were going to be the first.”
Akkari says rampant corruption plagues Brazil and it’s good to see some justice somewhere.
“I still love Brazil but there’s so much corruption and so many scandals,” Akkari said.
“This FIFA investigation is really good for soccer in Brazil.
“Now, all the Brazilians think that something’s gonna happen, something’s gonna change. We’re very excited to see what’s going to happen in the next one to two years.
“I think just good things could happen, there’s nothing bad about it.”
Corruption Obstructs Brazilian Soccer
Akkari also says this type of corruption is why club soccer in Brazil has never reached its full potential.
“It’s just 10, 12 or 15 corrupt people [in charge of soccer in Brazil] and they put pressure on everybody else,” Akkari said.
“They take money from everybody else, then use it to get power. It’s terrible for everybody.
“That’s why all the players in Brazil leave to Europe and the US. There’s no money left in Brazil, they took everything.
“They can't pay anything for their salaries. They can’t pay anything. They don’t have any kind of moral limit or money limit. It’s unbelievable.”
Akkari is hopeful that things are changing for the better. Even if they don’t, Akkari says the Brazilian people will always persevere.
“At least the people in Brazil are amazing,” Akkari said. “The people are good and we’re always happy.
“Because it’s a country where there’s so much misery and security problems and violence, when we have something to celebrate, we all celebrate together.”