01:16 GMT +322 February 2019
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    Red and blue lights and a welcoming message that reads in French Neymar Jr. adorn the Eiffel Tower to celebrate the arrival of Brazilian footballer Neymar to Paris on August 5, 2017

    Football 1:0 Terrorism: Neymar Sets Eiffel Tower Alight Where Daesh Fails

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    Parisians have criticized the authorities' decision to light up the Eiffel Tower to greet football superstar Neymar, who recently signed for Paris St. Germain.

    On Friday evening, the Eiffel Tower was lit up as a tribute to Brazilian footballer Neymar, who has moved to Paris St. Germain from Barcelona for a world record transfer fee of €222 million ($262 million).

    The move aroused indignation among Parisians, who objected to the tower's use in this way, and queried who paid for the lighting. 

    Lighting up the tower is usually reserved for special occasions or tributes after tragic events. For example, the tower has been lit up several times this year to honor the victims of terrorist attacks. The tower has also been lit to mark special events. For example, it was lit up in green and yellow to mark France's hosting of the rugby world cup in 2007.

    However, from 9.30pm to 1am on Saturday evening, the tower was adorned with the blue and red colors of Paris St. Germain, to celebrate the arrival of superstar footballer Neymar.

    ​A huge television screen attached to the tower displayed the messages, "Bienvenue (welcome in French) Neymar JR," "Bem-vindo (welcome in Portuguese) Neymar Jr" or "Ici c'est (here is) Paris."

    On Twitter, local politicians and ordinary Parisians quickly moved to express their discontent with the lighting.

    ​"I see that the administration of the Eiffel Tower has put on a special lighting for Neymar, this is nonsense!" French senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo wrote.

    ​"Neymar to PSG..sure…. but to transform the #EiffelTower into an advertising medium for an evening..how to say #toomuchnon?" French deputy Yves Jego wrote.

    Others described the lighting as an "insult" to the victims of terrorist acts. They recalled that the Paris authorities took several days to light up the Eiffel Tower in memory of the St. Petersburg terror attack victims. Neymar's transfer was concluded on Thursday. 

    ​"Something should be done, this Eiffel Tower lighting has got annoying. We turn it on for Neymar and we hesitate for the victims of the Moscow [St. Petersburg] attacks."

    ​"To illuminate the Eiffel Tower for Neymar means giving the same importance to football and to Islamist carnage."

    Others responded with humor, comparing the arrangement to the renaming in 2015 of an indoor sports arena in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, which was formerly known as the Bercy Arena.

    ​"What if we call the Eiffel Tower the 'Neymar Tower' during his contract, like we call Bercy the 'AccorHotels Arena?'" asked one Twitter user.

    The city of Paris responded to the criticism by explaining that Paris St. Germain's Qatari owners had footed the bill for the lighting.

    "At the request of the Parisian football club, the city of Paris agreed to light up its monument to welcome the arrival of Neymar in the French capital […] The Eiffel Tower regularly celebrates sporting events. In the same spirit, the monument was lit for this event," the city authorities stated, France's La Chaine Info reported.

    A source told the broadcaster that Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSi), which bought Paris St. Germain in 2011, had paid €50,000 ($59,000) to a fund for the tower's maintenance. The source said the club probably ended up paying more, having met the costs of the lighting and giant TV screen.


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    light, criticism, Eiffel Tower, Neymar, Paris, Qatar, France
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