Academy Award for Neymar Jr?
Football fans and pundits criticise Brazil superstar for play-acting
Neymar Jr inspired Brazil to their seventh straight FIFA World Cup quarter-finals as he opened the scoring in the 51st minute before setting up the goal for Roberto Firmino in the closing stages of the game.
The world's costliest player took not only the man-of-the-match award for his on-field performance, but was also on the receiving end of some harsh words. Football pundits and fans around the world critised him for his reaction after Mexico's Miguel Layun appeared to have stepped on his ankle around the 70-minute mark.
The incidence took place in the Brazil technical area as the forward fell on the ground after being fouled with the ball between his legs. Mexico's Layun who was desperate to restart the game as they were trailing 1-0 went to retrieve the ball and appeared to have slightly stepped on his counterpart's ankle.
Brazil No. 10, already on the ground, started rolling on the pitch in agony and unbearable pain. Seeing their talisman in agony, Brazil fans skipped a heartbeat, remembering the manner in which he got injured in the 2014 edition.
But after receiving treatment for a good five minutes, Neymar jogged back on the field as if nothing had happened and showed no signs of discomfort.
"And the Oscar goes to... Neymar" was the first reaction that was trending on social media, while BBC commentator Conor McNamara had the following to say: “He's wriggling around as if a crocodile has bitten him. It’s as if he has lost a limb.”
"Considering the amount of time Neymar has been rolling about the pitch... There should be about 91 minutes injury time in this game #BRAMEX," read another reaction as social media was filled with the memes trolling Brazilian superstar.
In recent times, the Paris Saint-Germain player has been associated more with his theatrics than skills. He is ridiculed across the world for his exaggerated reactions whenever he is brought to the ground.
Neymar's play-acting on the touchlines left Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio fuming that even in his post-match press conference he criticised an unnamed player for faking fouls.
“I think we controlled the game mostly and unfortunately - and it is a shame for football - we wasted a lot of time because of one player. We lost our style in the second half because of the refereeing style. There were too many stoppages,” he said.
"There was a four-minute stoppage at one point and this is a very negative example for the world of football and all the children who are following the game. This should be a strong sport, a man’s sport. I think there shouldn’t be so much acting,” added the 56-year-old Colombian.
But former Barcelona man hit out at his critics stating that it is a campaign to undermine him. "I think it’s more of an attempt to undermine me than anything else. I don’t much care for criticism, not even for praise because this can influence in a way the athlete’s attitude," said the 26-year old forward.
"In the last two matches, I didn’t talk to the press because there are too many people talking, getting excited. I don’t know if they’re showing off. I am here to win with my teammates,” he said after the match.
The current hot topic will go on for a while now as the fans are in splits whether the touch from Layun was deliberate or not and how impactful exactly the touch was.
The World saw Neymar rolling on the ground in agony and getting up as if nothing happened. But Neymar and Brazil who impressed on the pitch cannot focus on what is now a thing of a past.
The golden generation of Belgium stands in their way to the clinch the sixth World Cup.