A Brazilian sports magazine has been criticised by religious groups after publishing a picture of Brazil star Neymar being crucified.

Placar magazine ran a photograph on their cover depicting Neymar as Jesus Christ, but the Brazilian National Bishops Confederation (CNBB) has criticised the decision to run the picture, branding it “disdainful towards people’s feelings.”

Placar said the picture acts as a metaphor to represent the heavy criticism Neymar has been subjected to in his home country for diving.

But the CNBB published a letter stating it feels “severly outraged” with the photo front cover.

"The Brazilian National Bishops Confederation states that it feels severely outraged with the [photo] montage that is is the cover of a sports magazine, where the image of Jesus Christ is seen with the face of a football player," read the statement.

Neymar has committed his future to Santos until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but that has not stopped speculation linking him with an earlier move to Europe.

The Brazil forward is world football’s hottest property, and is strongly rumoured to be a transfer priority for Barcelona.

Barca fullback Dani Alves recently admitted he’d love to see his international colleague alongside Lionel Messi up front at the Nou Camp, and club president Sandro Rosell has not ruled out a move for the 20-year-old.

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