International Football

Is Neymar a Diver? Assessing the Evidence of Diego Lugano's Claims

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  Neymar of Brazil reacts during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Italy and Brazil at Estadio Octavio Mangabeira (Arena Fonte Nova Salvador) on June 22, 2013 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 26, 2013

Ahead of Brazil's 2013 Confederations Cup semifinal clash with Uruguay, Diego Lugano has caused a real stir.

As reported by Ben Smith of the BBC, the Celeste captain has claimed Neymar, the Selecao's star of the tournament and attacking talisman, is a diver.

"Neymar can feign a foul, so we must be watchful nobody is fooled," claimed the Paris St-Germain defender.

"He is very apt at pretending to be fouled and is very lightweight, so he can drop to the ground and fool the referees and the rivals."

The former Santos star, who has agreed to join Barcelona in a £49 million move after the tournament in Brazil ends, has received consistent levels of scrutiny throughout his career on such a matter.

Is there truth in the statement, or is Lugano playing mind games?

It's happened before; as per Mirror Football, Mark Hughes, then manager of Manchester City, suggested Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick technique would cripple him ahead of a Manchester derby.

Much of football is mental, and Lugano has piled pressure onto the referee, ensuring he's watching Neymar's falls like a hawk.

But is the Selecao star a real diver? Is there merit in Lugano's claims?

He's not notorious by any stretch of the imagination, and the Uruguay defender uses careful phrasing: "[he is] very lightweight, so he can drop to the ground and fool the referees," is the exact quote.

Neymar's copybook has been blotted, too, by some antics earlier in his career. Back in the Brasileiro Serie A as an emerging star, Neymar would "throw himself around a little," but was that to protect himself or gain an advantage?

He's a slight player and always will be, and at full speed, they're easy to knock over. 

Paul Hirst of the Press Association (via the Daily Mail) spoke to Andre Villas-Boas regarding incredibly similar allegations presented to Gareth Bale:

"I think he uses it as a precaution from different types of challenges," the Porguese tactician said.

"I'm not saying all of the players that challenge Gareth are malicious but the action is so quick that it might look like it's not a foul while it is."

The PFA's chairman Clarke Carlisle used the same argument to defend Manchester United winger Ashley Young, as per Alistair Magowan of the BBC:

"He is quick and slight so it doesn't take much contact to make him go over."

A theme occurring is smaller, niftier players being accused of diving, and their go-to reaction is blame their small frames.

Is Neymar one of many, or does Lugano have a point?

We pass no judgement and instead ask B/R commenters the question: In your opinion, is Neymar a diver?


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