As if Brazil’s quarterfinal exit wasn’t bad enough for their fans, the world is making fun of their star player with the Neymar Challenge.
Brazil came into the 2018 World Cup as favorites to win the trophy, but instead find themselves out at the quarterfinal stage. Their loss to Belgium means they’ve been eliminated by a European side at four World Cups in a row.
There will be a lot to unpack in the coming days surrounding Brazil’s exit, but the play of Neymar will likely be front and center. Ever since the start of the World Cup, he’s been a talking point. Unfortunately for him, not much of the focus has been on how he played. In the first game, it was about his haircut that resembled a bowl of ramen noodles. In the second, it was of him crying at the end of the game. And from the third game on, it was about his diving.
When Brazil beat Mexico, Mexican fans came up with the Neymar Challenge to make fun of his theatrics, and now Brazil are out of the World Cup, it has taken on a life of its own:
It seems like everyone except for Brazil fans are laughing at Neymar’s expense. Not only are people in World Cup fanzones doing the Neymar Challenge, but fans at home as well. It’s easy to do — the person filming just has to shout Neymar, or lightly tap someone, and one person or a group of people will start rolling around like he did against Serbia. However, the best videos are easily the ones where animals are involved.
While Neymar has developed a reputation for diving in the past, his display at the World Cup could see him reach Luis Suarez levels of infamy. He came into the tournament coming off a major injury, so he could’ve been doing it to get some much-needed rest — in total, he spent 14 minutes on the ground. But he did it so frequently that whenever he did get fouled, the ref would dismiss it.
Brazil are a much stronger team than they were four years ago, and have made great progress under Tite. But they’re still too dependent on Neymar — or in the case of the quarterfinals, Casemiro — to be World Cup winners. He was the focal point of their attack, but with just two goals to his name, he ensured the sticking point for everyone would be his theatrics instead of his goalscoring.