It gets to a point where if a footballer, or any athlete for that matter, does something for long enough, they become known for it.
Take the Fosbury flop, the ‘Mobot’ or even Usain Bolt’s ‘To Di World’ celebration – they’ve all become signature moves forever associated with the individuals who came up with them. Even Peter Crouch’s weird robot dance moves or Jurgen Klinsmann’s dive have become synonymous with the players themselves.
These moves all have something in common though – aside from the Fosbury flop (which is now the standard way to do the high jump), they are done in celebration, and are seen as a symbol of a certain achievement.
When an athlete becomes known for a move not in celebration, but for unsportsmanlike conduct, it doesn’t reflect well on them.
Unfortunately, it looks like Brazilian star footballer Neymar is falling into the latter, as his flopping and flailing in this year’s World Cup has received more attention than his playing, and is now going viral.
Valon Behrami standing over Neymar & laughing at him for rolling around like a dying duck, while getting booked, is my favorite picture of the WC so far. pic.twitter.com/u8fTELoAB3
— Saurabh (@TheUnited_Way) July 7, 2018
Neymar’s dives have become such a joke that football fans across the globe are now doing the ‘Neymar Challenge’, flinging themselves to the ground at the slightest touch and rolling around acting as if they’re in extreme pain.
It’s a common sight in football these days, but seeing it out and about is hilarious.
Here are just a few highlights:
— ElbaJiménezHummelsNadalG (@elbajimenez9) July 7, 2018
— G.O.A.T.™ (@MessismoGOAT) July 6, 2018
— Eduardo Fuentes Silva (@fuentesilva) July 6, 2018
WEEK 1 DAY 5 | We’ve had a fabulous week to kick off our Summer Camp. We decided to end it with the #NeymarChallenge. I think some of the children are definitely going to the World Cup with their impressions! ?⚪️⚽️ #WeAreKillie pic.twitter.com/wP2h9i6LXj
— Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust (@KillieCommunity) July 6, 2018
— Daniel Moreno (@MrDanielMoreno) July 5, 2018
— SamFarfoud (@SamFarfoud) July 7, 2018
Even animals are having a go:
Brazil have, of course, been knocked out of this year’s tournament after losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals, and while many people can now see the funny side of his outrageous moves on the pitch, at the time it wasn’t quite the case.
During the post-match analysis after Brazil’s clash with Mexico, Alan Shearer said:
It’s absolutely pathetic. There’s no doubting the ability of him. We saw it with the back heel, then the finish and then setting up for the second goal, he’s a magnificent player.
But it really is pathetic when he’s rolling around as if he’s in agony. Why does he feel he needs to do that?
I think it’s been a magnificent tournament but the one downside has been seeing players feign injury and running to the referees and trying to get other players sent off.
While BBC Sport‘s John Bennett said:
It embodied the best and worst of Neymar rolled (pun intended) into one.
He created some of the old magic in Samara and is clearly regaining match fitness step by step but yet again his performance will be overshadowed by his theatrics and he’ll make the headlines for the wrong reasons.
For all his footballing ability, which is considerable, Neymar has a certain habit of going down like a sack of potatoes at the slightest hint of a touch against him, especially if he thinks it’ll get him a penalty.
And it’t not gone unnoticed. According to one strange statistic from RTS Sport, the Seleção’s main man has spent just under 14 minutes on the floor ‘in pain’ during the World Cup so far.
Though many people will be glad Brazil have been knocked out, it would’ve been interesting to see that total rise by the end of the tournament.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.