Barcelona midfielder Rafinha has defended Neymar in the wake of criticism for his role in a late game incident between Barca players and Valencia fans in the Blaugrana's 3-2 away win on Saturday.
A bottle was thrown onto the pitch at Mestalla as Barca celebrated Lionel Messi's stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot in front of the home supporters. Neymar and Luis Suarez were both hit by objects and fell to the pitch, leading Messi to confront the fans and pump his fist.
After the match, Javier Tebas accused Barcelona players of provoking the Valencia supporters, with the La Liga president implying that Neymar and Luis Suarez faked contact and "fell like bowling pins." He also said he would be embarrassed to go home to his children if he had acted that way.
Valencia sporting director Suso Garcia Pitarch followed suit in criticising Neymar's behaviour, faulting the Barca No. 11 alone for inciting his club's fans. But Rafinha believes his Barcelona and Brazil teammate is being unfairly blamed for what took place.
"They're changing the story. Missiles were thrown at Neymar and they changed the story to say that it was an act of violence by one person inside the Mestalla, and now they blame Neymar, which for me is really a surprise," Rafinha told Mundo Deportivo.
"I think yes, Neymar is a victim of a campaign, there exists many people that look for this type of thing, they create something that really isn't there.
"But it's football, Neymar has special ability, and when he shows it on the field, for me it's not provocation, it's art. I would like everyone to do that, but everyone has their own way to play."
Rafinha, who has bounced back nicely from a serious injury to score four goals in five La Liga matches this campaign, had harsh words for Tebas' role as well.
"When a player is not protected from violent actions, he runs the risk of it happening again. It's important that Barca protects their players, I'm surprised the president of La Liga doesn't do the same," Rafinha said.