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World Cup Flopping

Neymar Jr by DSanchez17 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

World Cup Flopping

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

This World Cup has been trying. Everyone I know seems to be deeply invested in it. Just the other day, all my co-workers stopped working and huddle around the TV while Britain beat Colombia in PKs. On the subways, passengers are streaming games on their phones, only to have them interrupted when they go through a tunnel. Right now, the cool thing seems to be watching the World Cup. I want to be cool.

But I can’t.

One reason, my two countries are not in the World Cup. My number one country, USA (where I was born and raised), couldn’t even beat Trinidad and Tobago in the qualifiers. I don’t even think they finished in the top three of their division. My other country, because Americans can’t guarantee their country will represent them in any soccer tournament, Italy also failed to qualify. How? I’m not sure, I wasn’t following.

Flopper McFlops

The main reason I can’t get into the World Cup, and Soccer in general, is the flopping, and boy, is there a lot of flopping. It seems like every drive someone takes a dive or embellishes the aftermath of a tackle. It’s not subtle. It’d be one then if they fell, noticed they weren’t going to get the call, and then immediately got up. But these players find it necessary to writhe in excruciating pain, holding their ankle or knee as if it was about to fall off. If anyone goes near their head, they whip it back with more force than those test dummies in a car crash. Half the time, the opposing player isn’t even near them, yet somehow they end up on the ground, crying to the Heavens for healing.

Public Enemy #1

The biggest perpetrator is supposedly one of the best players in the world: Neymar. According to any reputable stat source, Neymar has spent 14 minutes on the ground in this tournament. That’s an entire episode of The Big Bang Theory minus the commercials (seriously, has anyone else noticed how much shorter they are these days?). Neymar has managed to tear both Achilles and all the ligaments in both knees numerous times, but has continued playing as if nothing happened. At least that’s what it looks like when he’s on the ground flopping like that singing fish my Grandma had on her wall when I was a kid. You know the one…

I happened to be watching the Mexico/Brazil game the other day and Neymar managed to out-do himself with the embellishment. A Mexican player stepped on Neymar’s foot and Neymar twisted and turn as if he had his foot crushed by a fallen tree. He actually reached out for someone.

How is this acceptable? First, he looks like a fool. I’m sure it hurts getting stepped on by those spikes, but Willem Dafoe was less dramatic when he was getting shot in Platoon. Second, it’s clear he’s doing this to get that other player kicked out. In my mind, that’s cheating. That has nothing to do with the game. Why can a hockey player break his leg and stay on the ice for over a minute but Neymar acts as if he needs triage when he gets stepped on.

Cheaters Gonna Cheat

Flopping is cheating, especially in the box, where a foul leads to a penalty kick. The defense should be allowed to defend without worrying that if they play the ball the guy may fall in some dramatic, over-the-top fashion. These players who flop are taking advantage of the lack of officials on the field. I’m sure the sight lines for the refs make it hard for them determine if it was an actual foul or if the player is looking to be nominated for an Oscar In hockey, they penalize the player who embellishes. Why can’t Soccer do the same thing? The game would be so much more fun to watch if you didn’t have players dodge, dip, dive, duck, and…dodge all over the place.

And while we are on the subject, perhaps we could ban this player for flopping too…

I want to like Soccer, I really do. Some of these goals in the World Cup have been majestic and should be hanging up in a museum. The PKs in the England/Columbia game was intense and exciting, like a Dwyane Johnson blockbuster. But it all gets covered up and vandalized by the nonsense that is flopping.

Actor, Voice-Over Artist, Sports Blog writer. Joseph Dalfonso is an unconventional triple-threat. Joseph grew up in the great beautiful state of Maine and now resides in New York City. Joseph is an avid New England sports fan who loves a good flannel every now and again.



  1. Avatar

    Scott Orlesky

    July 8, 2018 at 10:29 am

    First, Flopping is a mess, yes…but its driven by what is called on the field. One of the South american officials at the world cup talked at length about this…in their domestic league, the game is called much closer, and fouls are given more often for smaller transgressions.

    Neymar isn’t the worst of the floppers, but he is the most high profile..also, he is the most fouled player so far at the world cup(you could look that up)-maybe he’s just tired of getting fouled and would like to see someone punished for it…he’s had injuries(due to fouls) that have kept him out for months during his career.

    Interestingly, one of your teams, Italy, are the worst of the floppers in general in Europe. But you’re not enough of a fan to know why they didn’t get there, so you probably didn’t know that….

    If you think penalty kicks are the best part of the game, you really don’t understand the game at all. Not enough instant gratification for you? I am guessing you don’t think basketball is boring at all then…I would have to disagree. Go back to writing about something you might know something about.

    You clearly aren’t a fan of the game at all,

    • Ned Donovan

      Ned Donovan

      July 8, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Hey Scott, Managing Editor here. If you don’t like what you’re reading on the site, feel free to come write for us! There’s a submission form in the top bar, we would love the perspective of someone who thinks they know more.

  2. Avatar


    July 9, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    By the way, Britain is not taking part in this World Cup, England is. It is a big difference in that part of the world.

  3. Avatar


    July 10, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Drawing the foul is, to a small extent, motivation for a player to writhe in agony on the pitch when an opponent has invaded too much of his personal space. But there is something else to this phenomenon that isn’t well understood or discussed much, at least among American audiences; clock management.
    In basketball, if your team needs a few minutes to reset, or to slow the other team’s momentum, you call a timeout. Same in football. Each period in hockey has timeouts built-in. I love baseball with a passion, but it’s … well, it’s baseball.
    Soccer is different. The clock never stops. There are no timeouts. The play is continuous for 45 minutes plus stoppage; an unheard of length of time in any other sport. Play is only ever blown dead when either the ball leaves the pitch or when there is a foul. The only time play is halted altogether is when a player is injured.
    Good players in any game will recognize when their team needs to regroup. In any other sport, they would call a timeout. In soccer, that’s not an option, so you go down like you’ve been shot the first opportunity you have. Unfortunately, for casual fans who don’t actually understand what they’re watching, it looks dishonest at best and ridiculous at worst. Nonetheless, it’s a tactic players have developed in order to deal with the unrelenting progression of time. Some players are adept at using it with subtlety. Neymar is not one of them.

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