The World Cup tournament is the largest of all soccer events around the world. Attracting millions of viewers, soccer fans across the globe gather around televisions in pubs, living rooms, and stadiums to watch their countries battle on the pitch. Usually, it’s a great time of camaraderie, competition, and spectacle. However, sometimes, the world’s foremost soccer stars display antics that bring embarrassment to themselves and the game they’re meant to champion.
Last week, Brazil versus Mexico was no exception. Pro soccer players are premier athletes, running some 48 kilometers in a single match, but also capable of falling for no reason. An all too familiar name in soccer stardom, Brazilian striker Neymar, for all his talent, chose to flop, writhe, and give such a performance of on-field agony that it caused cringes worldwide. Now, we’ll be the first to say that Neymar is a brilliant footballer. But, this display was so utterly ridiculous that, following the moments that it happened, it became an international meme and the source of ridicule from soccer fans of all ages.
After Neymar went down on a play, Mexican player Miguel Layan barely touched Neymar’s foot and it would seem that Neymar had been thrown from a moving vehicle. Rolling, screaming, writhing, putting on a show for millions of viewers, the most expensive soccer player in the world played the drama card instead of the sport he’s paid millions to play. Delaying the game for almost four minutes, he eventually got up and played the rest of the match because, unsurprisingly, he was completely unhurt. Brazil went on to defeat Mexico 2-0.
For people who watch soccer events and even those who don’t, he has been deeply criticized. Especially because the 26-year-old Neymar is an international soccer idol among young soccer players. Danish soccer legend Peter Schmeichel, in the face of the memes and mock hilarity, failed to see the humor and lamented Neymar’s poor example: “I can’t find any other way [of describing it] than disgraceful … People are in uproar about this. [Neymar] looked like he was dying. It’s not on, it’s not what we want in football.”
Sure enough, people are making fun of him all over the world. Soccer events in the international realm hold a great deal of influence over the community of the sport, for good or ill. Seeing soccer stars like Neymar pull stunts like that instead of playing at the level he is capable is disheartening. With all of our young players, we encourage them to play the game, play it well, and let that speak for itself. Leave the drama at the theatre, it has no place on the pitch.