2018 World Cup

Could Neymar’s incessant flopping and ‘histrionics’ hurt Brazil — and soccer?

ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop provides commentary for The Undefeated

Neymar is better than this.

The Brazilian superstar, the most dangerous one-on-one player in the world, who has his country on the cusp of its sixth World Cup title, should be celebrated for his ability to beat defenders and change a match with a single run.

The player whom fellow Brazil great Pelé anointed the heir to the throne (when Neymar was 20!) should be lauded for his performance on Monday, when he contributed a goal and an assist in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico, putting his squad into the World Cup quarterfinals.

Instead, Neymar has become the king of all memes, with the internet mocking his gamesmanship, incessant flopping and “histrionics,” as ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop said in his latest commentary for The Undefeated.

“I find it disappointing for a player that I expected a lot more from,” Hislop said. “I also find it surprising, given how good Brazil have been.”

In Neymar’s defense, the 26-year-old star isn’t the only one flopping and flailing every time he makes contact with another player (Tuesday’s England-Colombia match was an embarrassment for the game on both sides).

But Neymar, arguably the face of the tournament with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo gone fishin’, has taken gamesmanship to another level, which could ultimately hurt Brazil — and the game.

“In the end, I hope it doesn’t,” Hislop said. “[His] histrionics have left a bad taste, not just in my mouth, but a lot of people are looking at it with a little bit of skepticism. If he doesn’t cut out his histrionics and focus on his game, that may damage his own stock, and big clubs may want to point their focus and their big money somewhere else where they feel he won’t be a distraction on the field and in the dressing room.”