Rather than cheating, Neymar dives for self-protection as referees in France are doing nothing to look after the brilliant Brazilian, as another injury shows

Neymar has been heavily criticized for diving throughout his career, but the reality is that he is not protected enough by referees in France.

A series of uncalled fouls against him by Strasbourg players in a Coupe de France clash meant that the Paris Saint Germain star suffered a fractured metatarsal and faces the risk of missing out on the upcoming Manchester United game in the Champions League.

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There is no avoiding the fact that Neymar does dive. Strasbourg attacker Anthony Gonçalves went as far as blaming the Brazilian’s style of play for all the brutal fouls he suffers, as if it was okay to break the rules because of one’s dislike to another’s ethics. There is absolutely nothing that justifies breaking the law.

On the other hand, Neymar’s father accused the referees of not protecting the player as well as the press for criticizing his diving. His point is that Neymar has to dive in order to protect himself, because the referees can’t protect him.

Why Neymar’s diving is for self-protection

The reasoning behind it is that jumping and landing on the ground in a specific way makes it less painful and easier to cope with. Now of course, this goes without saying that Neymar has had some really bad dives, especially in the World Cup against Switzerland and Serbia. Sometimes, he does exaggerate, but he is mostly trying to protect himself. It is also true that Neymar is not physically strong, so would get hurt easier than a player with a bigger and more muscular body would.

Whatever is the reason, the reality is that Neymar JR’s participation against Manchester United is in jeopardy, as Paris Saint Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed to the media. It’s a big shame because the Brazilian missed the decisive encounter against Real Madrid last season, also because of picking up an injury in Ligue Un action.

Whereas the Seleção star was signed especially for boosting PSG’s hopes in the Champions League. It would be very painful for him, in the event that his side fall short on qualification, and he could only sit on the sidelines and wonder what might have been, had the referee whistled early on, booked the Strasbourg defenders and prevented the injury from occurring. But that’s that, and football requires mental strength just as much as anything else.

Neymar faces a new challenge, where he needs to get over this trauma that seems to repeat itself on an annual basis. In 2014, he missed the World Cup semi-final against Germany. In 2015, Neymar missed the remainder of Copa América following a chaotic end against Colombia. In 2018, the Brazilian missed the return Champions League tie against Real Madrid due to injury, an injury which went on to clearly affect his fitness in Russia during the World Cup. And now, he could be missing the game of the season once again.

The Seleção star has so often overcome difficult moments in his career, and it won’t be to anyone’s surprise if he does so yet again. It is his right to ask for refereeing protection, while he should admittedly keep working on eliminating diving from his game.

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