Legendary Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo is denouncing recent criticism in the media of star forward Neymar, who is being accused of diving and feigning injury to secure foul calls. Ronaldo calls the accusations “nonsense” and says his countryman is not being protected enough.
“There are many ways to see football and interpret it,” Ronaldo told reporters, via ESPN. “I am against all these opinions [on Neymar acting]. He is an intelligent player in his movements and on how to defend himself from being tackled. I don’t think referees have been protecting him enough. When people repeatedly hit me I would feel a sense of unfairness. Criticism is nonsense. TV shows and newspapers just want to fill the space.”
Neymar, who has been fouled as much as any player in the entire World Cup tournament, is also under fire from opposing coaches and former players. Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio reortedly said Neymar is “doing too much acting” and Alan Shearer, Pat Nevin, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona are among a bevy of former players taking shots at Neymar for what they call “theatrics.”
But some are also calling out players on other teams for giving Oscar-worthy performances on the pitch. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says it’s unfair to single out Neymar when there are players on every team who incorporate a bit of acting into their games.
“People are focusing on Neymar, but if it was only Neymar, I’d be happy, but it’s not only Neymar,” Mourinho said. “Every team has lots of diving, lots of pretending, lots of putting pressure on the referee…”