Lula thanks Brazil legend Rai for Ballon d'Or support
Veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the front-runner to unseat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a presidential runoff this month, thanked Brazilian football legend Rai for backing him Monday at the Ballon d'Or awards.
Rai, who helped Brazil to the 1994 World Cup trophy, gave Lula a silent shout-out at the gala awards ceremony for football's greatest in Paris, mentioning his country's elections before flashing an "L" sign with his right hand.
"Thank you, Rai. I was watching," Lula wrote on Twitter.
Lula, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, is seeking a presidential comeback in a polarizing October 30 runoff against Bolsonaro.
The ex-president finished ahead in the first-round election on October 2 with 48 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for the incumbent.
Rai, a star at Paris Saint-Germain in the 1990s, took the stage at the glittering Ballon d'Or ceremony to present the inaugural Socrates award, named for his late older brother, a fellow football legend who died in 2011.
The award recognizes footballers involved in social causes, like Socrates, a midfielder at Sao Paulo side Corinthians who helped push the fight for democracy during Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
"Socrates represents the ideals of a more just, humane world, the values of democracy," said the tuxedo-clad Rai, 57.
"We're also thinking of my country, which is going to have a decision to make for a better world at the end of the month. We all know which side Socrates would be on," he said, before flashing the "L" with a smile and a wink -- widely used as a pro-Lula symbol in Brazil.
Bolsonaro meanwhile has the country's biggest present-day star in his camp: PSG and Brazil striker Neymar endorsed the incumbent in a TikTok video on the eve of the first-round election.
The Socrates award went to Senegal and Bayern Munich striker Sadio Mane.