Fifa World Cup: Neymar denies injury play-acting accusations – ‘I just feel the pain’

Mexico coach says Brazil star’s dramatics are a ‘shame for football’ as World Cup criticism continues

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 1:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 1:21pm

Neymar has been accused of play-acting at the World Cup, but the Brazil star is now pleading his innocence.

The 26-year-old’s dramatics in the 2-0 win against Mexico drew criticism when he rolled around on the floor and screamed in apparent agony after Miguel Layun placed the top of his boot on his ankle.

“I just feel the pain,” Neymar said. “It’s complicated. It’s not something I can control.”

“I got stepped on unfairly,” he added. “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.”

The Paris Saint-Germain striker scored Brazil’s opener against Mexico and set up their second goal, but the incident with Layun on the touchline overshadowed the positive aspects of his performance.

“It is a shame for football, we wasted a lot of time because of one player,” Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said.

Fifa World Cup: Neymar injury play-acting draws criticism as Eric Cantona warns Brazil star ‘be careful’

“This is a game of men that is played with intensity and not with so much clowning.

“It is a shame for all the people watching, all the children watching. There shouldn’t be acting. I think this had an impact on our pace and style.”

It’s not the first time Neymar has been criticised in Russia – he saw a penalty decision against Costa Rica overturned by the video assistant referee after going down too easily, and pulled off a comical quadruple-barrel roll after a tackle against Serbia – something that became an instant meme on social media.

“I don’t care much for criticism, or praise, because this can influence your attitude,” Neymar told TV Globo. “I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else.”

Brazil play Belgium next in a crunch quarter-final, and unsurprisingly manager Tite has defended his star man.

“[Layun] stepped on him,” Tite said. “I saw it on the screen.

“In the previous match, he was excellent and here he repeated a high-quality performance.”