Brazil superstar Neymar scored a goal and created another one against Mexico on Monday to take his team through to the quarter-finals of the 2018 Fifa World Cup, but the 26-year-old has still managed to attract a fair bit of criticism during his time in Russia.
Neymar’s sparkling performance on Monday was tarnished by yet another example of his tendency to overreact to seemingly innocuous challenges. The latest chapter in a bulging catalogue of histrionic behaviour came in the second half, when Mexico midfielder Miguel Layun appeared to step on his ankle as he lay prone.
Neymar writhed around and convulsed as if he had received an electric shock. Mexico’s coach Juan Carlos Osorio said it was “a shame for football” as he hit out at the Brazilian for wasting precious time. “This is a very bad example for the world and the world of football,” he added.
Social media has also been vitriolic in its criticism of Neymar, with many users accusing the Brazilian of cheating. Former England striker Alan Shearer described the Paris Saint-Germain star as “absolutely pathetic.”
“There is no doubting the ability of him. He is a magnificent player,” said Shearer, who is working in Russia for Britain’s BBC. “But it really is pathetic when he is rolling around as if he is in agony.”
A Rio de Janeiro bar even invented a new drinking game around Neymar’s theatrics. During Brazil’s group game against Serbia, the bar offered free shots every time Neymar fell down.
Yet, Neymar shrugged off the criticism after his man-of-the-match performance against Mexico, claiming it was motivated to “undermine me.”
“I don’t care much for criticism, or praise, because this can influence your attitude,” he said.
“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because I don’t want to. I just have to play, help my teammates, help my team.”
His comments were not enough to pacify social media, though. One YouTuber even uploaded a compilation of all the Neymar rolling memes that have flooded the internet in the last few days. You can watch it here:
With inputs from AFP