No Sympathy for Neymar: FIFA’s Complicity in Flopping

To conclude my rant against FIFA and the immense amount of frustration I experienced while watching the 2014 World Cup, I want to discuss perhaps the most infuriating part of the game: The exorbitant amount of fouls and flopping that occurred during the tournament. Flopping – defined as an attempt to draw a foul by falling to the ground in an overly dramatic fashion – is not unique to soccer. A few year ago, this problem was identified in the NHL, and the league began cracking down on this dangerous and deceptive behavior by issuing penalties to players who attempted to fool the officials into thinking a foul had been committed against them.

During this year’s World Cup, however, I couldn’t help but assume that FIFA did not have the same policy as the NHL regarding the (il)legitmacy of flopping as a strategy of the game. After discussing this issue with a friend of mine who is much more knowledgeable about soccer than myself, I was informed that flopping IS indeed against FIFA rules and regulations, and that referees can issue yellow cards for such behavior. It is astonishing to me, then, that out of the dozens and dozens of flops that occurred throughout the tournament, only ONE yellow card was given for such behavior to Oscar of the Brazilian squad. Ironically, the play in which he was penalized for flopping was clearly a legitimate foul, and not a flop.

While players from nearly every nation engaged in some degree of flopping, Brazilian star Neymar was arguably the tournament’s worst offender. But don’t take my word for it. For evidence of Neymar’s brilliant acting skills, see this story.

Unfortunately, Neymar wasn’t always faking. During the match against Colombia, he suffered a broken back and was unable to play in the remainder of the tournament. The following picture says it all:

While Neymar did indeed suffer a legitimate injury, this picture could easily have been taken during one of his many flops.
While Neymar did indeed suffer a legitimate injury, this picture could easily have been taken during one of his many flops.

Many people expressed extreme sympathy for Neymar while also arguing that FIFA did not do enough in taking the injury seriously. While I do blame FIFA for allowing players to flop repeatedly without penalty, I do not believe that they can be held responsible for mishandling Neymar’s injury. Contrary to many people who have commented on this incident, I have absolutely no sympathy for Neymar. He feigned injury so many times throughout the tournament that it is no wonder that many people initially under-estimated the severity of his injury. Just like my mother who used to ring my phone off the hook and leave me text messages demanding that I call her back because it was “an emergency” only to later find out that she just wanted to complain to me about something trivial, I eventually started ignoring her calls, and Neymar’s behavior is no different. By crying wolf, both my mother and Neymar have put themselves in an extremely dangerous situation. When something actually DOES go wrong, I will be the last person to believe it.

So I conclude with a simple message to Neymar – if you want my sympathy, then stop being the Brazilian who cries wolf.