Soccer Star Neymar Joins PokerStars

.jpg">Brazilian soccer star Neymar is the newest brand ambassador for PokerStars.

Neymar, who is just 23, is the captain of the Brazilian national team and a star of FC Barcelona in Spain.

The signing provides a number of avenues for PokerStars to leverage his stardom. Neymar boasts 18 million Twitter followers and 51.2 million Facebook fans. He also gives PokerStars a star in two markets where it would like to make more in-roads: Brazil/South America and Spain.

Neymar has been silent on social media about the signing so far. Here is what he had to say about the signing after the announcement:

“Growing up and playing football everyday has made me a competitive person. When I’m not playing football, playing poker and competing against my teammates on the road or in home games with friends is one of my favourite things to do. To be a successful poker player, you require many of the same skills needed to be a successful footballer – mental strength is important; resilience, patience, composure and focus. I love the challenge, whether it’s on the football pitch or at the poker table,” he continued.

Neymar’s love of poker has been well-documented; he often hosts home poker games and has posted pictures of himself playing the game on social media on several occasions. His dog is also named “Poker.”

The signing of Neymar comes on the heels of speculation of another huge soccer star, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, joining the online poker site as well.

David Baazov, chairman and CEO of PokerStars parent Amaya Gaming, actually weighed in on the signing in a press release on the announcement:

“Neymar Jr is a young and extremely charismatic megastar who loves interacting with fans on social media, is comfortable on camera and loves the game of poker. And as a superstar with one of the world’s most famous football clubs and football nations, his appeal is global. This partnership is a great opportunity to market the game of poker across the globe and attract new fans.”

PokerStars announced the deal on Thursday, giving the online poker site another deal with a Brazilian soccer star. Soccer legend Ronaldo is also on Team PokerStars. Other sports stars under contract with PokerStars include tennis star Rafael Nadal, Field hockey’s Fatima Moreira de Melo and cross-country skier Marcus Hellner.

PokerStars said that Neymar would be playing in a series of “Celebrity Duels” at the European Poker Tour Barcelona, which will be held in August. He will play on PokerStars under the User ID ‘neymar-jr’.

On Twitter: @Dustin Gouker

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