Fifa World Cup: protect Neymar, demands two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo after play-acting criticism
Former Barcelona man speaks out in support of his compatriot
Two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima has demanded that referees in Brazil offer more protection to his compatriot Neymar.
Speaking on the PodcastOne Sports Now, Ronaldo added that critics of the Paris Saint-Germain forward’s theatrics during games are “stupid and don’t understand about football.”
“The defenders are very strong with him and not legal,” said Ronaldo, who won the 1994 and 2002 World Cup with Brazil.
Neymar has been targeted for some robust treatment during the World Cup so far, but he has received a lot of criticism for what some perceive to be his dramatic reactions and willingness to go to ground.
His behaviour during Brazil’s recent last-16 win over Mexico led to an outbreak of social media teasing as well as criticism from former players and pundits, including Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, who compared the Brazilian talisman to a suitcase on wheels because “you barely touch it and it turns round and round for hours”.
Neymar hit back at some of the criticism earlier this week when he insisted his reaction was a legitimate response to the pain he suffers in games.
“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.
Additional reporting by Associated Press