Neymar has been mocked incessantly on social media, with fans slamming the Brazil star for his antics in the late World Cup win over Costa Rica.
The 2-0 win kept Brazil’s World Cup qualification hopes in their own hands heading into their final Group E match against knockout-chasing Serbia.
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The PSG superstar is unquestionably one of the most talented footballers on the planet, but his antics are threatening to overshadow his football skills in Russia.
Neymar had earned his side a penalty thanks to the spectacular dive in the video at the top of the page, which originally fooled referee Bjorn Kuipers.
However, the referee reversed his decision after consulting VAR.
Neymar escaped a yellow card for simulation but he couldn’t escape the crosshairs of fans on social media.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) June 22, 2018
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 22, 2018
— Mary Azizi (@maryazizii) June 22, 2018
— James Brown (@avantbrown) June 22, 2018
I’m not a fan of VAR but that’s the greatest thing VAR has ever done. Worrying that the referee bought Neymar’s fall in the first place though.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) June 22, 2018
Brazil coach Tite later addressed the media to say he would have backed his first instinct and offered his support to Neymar.
“If I was the referee I wouldn’t go back on my decision but I respect that because it’s subject to interpretation,” said the 57-year-old. “We don’t need referees in order to win the game; we just want it to be fair. You should look at all of the plays and then make a decision. For me it was a penalty.
“We don’t need any help – the athletes and the coach don’t want any help to win.”
Tite unwittingly started trending on social media himself after the match, courtesy of a hilarious goal celebration that saw one of his own players send the coach sprawling onto the pitch.
— Nicole (@nick5H) June 22, 2018
After the match, an emotional Neymar was seen in tears with his head in his hands, a moment Tite says he did not see.
He added: “I just went to my corner and waited for the adrenaline to calm down. I didn’t even see it.
“I think the joy, the satisfaction and the pride of representing Brazil is a lot. He has the responsibility, the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it.
“Every person shows it the way they can. I am a very emotional guy and I respect the individual characteristics.”
Tite said that Neymar, who endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a metatarsal injury before the World Cup, is still regaining form and full fitness as Brazil’s Group E campaign unfolds.
He backed the 26-year-old to get back to his best, saying: “His individuality shows up if the whole group is playing well so you can’t put the responsibility on one player.
“I have to take my responsibility, so does everyone else on the team. He was three-and-a-half months out with injury.
“He is a human being – he needs some time to resume his high standard. Before he does that there is a team that has to be strong and not dependent on him.
“He’s going to make it. He’s going to reach the top, you’ll see.”