New Delhi: Neymar has been ruling headlines recently. And it is neither for his impressive football skills nor for the goals that he has scored in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018. But for the alleged ‘play-acting’ skills during the round-of-16 clash on Monday against Mexico at the Spartak Stadium. Brazil won 2-0 to proceed to the quarterfinals with Neymar scoring the first and setting up the second for Firmino but Neymar’s theatrics were what turned out to be the highlight of the match. Criticisms poured in alongside social media attacks but Brazilian Ronaldo described it all as ‘nonsense’.
Social media has been going gaga with memes and videos over Neymar’s theatrics while football pundits and legends of the game have criticised the 26-year-old for his actions.
However, Brazilian Ronaldo, one of the greatest footballers to play the game and standing just a position ahead of Neymar in Brazil’s all-time top scorer, said, “There are many ways to see football and interpret it.”
“I am against all these opinions (on Neymar acting). He is an intelligent player in his movements and on how to defend himself from being tackled.”
“I don’t think referees have been protecting him enough. When people repeatedly hit me I would feel a sense of unfairness. Criticism is nonsense. TV shows and newspapers just want to fill the space.”
Neymar, however, defended all the criticisms, saying, “It’s complicated. It’s not something I can control. I got stepped on unfairly. I think it was off the ball, outside the game. I don’t think it should be done. But that’s the thing, they talked too much before the game – and now they’re going home.”
Brazil will next face Belgium in the quarter-final round on Friday at the Kazan Arena. Belgium had won all their group matches and had scripted an incredible comeback against Japan in the round of 16 to win 3-2.