Best Flops of the World Cup

Matt HaupertFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2014

Best Flops of the World Cup

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    It seems that the World Cup has a lot more in common with the Academy Awards than it does the Super Bowl, as the winners are apparently determined based on their acting skills more than their athletic ability.

    Indeed, this year's tournament has seen the infamous "flop" technique play a key role in multiple matches.

    Of course, not all floppers are created equal, and not everyone has the artistic ability to flop with the necessary emotion, passion and realism. There are a select few footballers who have been able to do this and more.

    The greatest floppers are able to take the simplest bit of contact and turn it into debilitating pain.

    A tap of the arm becomes a shattered limb. A bump of the leg becomes a minute of writhing pain on the grass. A cough becomes a shove that sends them flailing to the ground.

    Too much time has been wasted this World Cup celebrating the dynamic scorers and the impenetrable goalkeepers.

    Today, let's celebrate the men who have made the biggest real accomplishments in this sacred tournament.

    Forget goals. Forget saves. Today, we celebrate the flops.

     

Arjen Robben: Netherlands vs. Mexico

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    As the match drew to a close with the score locked up at 1-1, it seemed like the Netherlands could not figure out a way to score another goal against Mexico.

    Then, all of a sudden, as if summoning some sort of otherworldly power, Arjen Robben turned in the performance of a lifetime.

    After getting just barely nicked in the foot by a Mexican defender, Robben leaped—nay, ascended—into the air, flailed his arms and legs mightily, bellowed ferociously like a lion who had just lost his only cub and fell majestically back to the earth.

    The referee was captivated by his moving performance, and offered a penalty kick as reward, which was enough to send the Netherlands through to the next round of competition.

    Shockingly, Robben's health seemed to be perfectly fine.

    Watch the video here.

Joao Moutinho: Portugal vs. Ghana

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Thanks to the ever-present theatrics, it's tough to get away with even breathing on an opponent in a soccer match without getting called for a foul—so when Portugal's Joao Moutinho blatantly tripped Ghana's Majeed Waris, he did what footballers seem to do best: grab a random part of your body and start to scream.

    Watch the GIF here and pay attention to Moutinho's eyes, because you can see his entire thought process.

    A carefully planned flop, a desperate attempt to get away with his own foul and an impressive display of quick strategic thinking that we can all learn from.

    Waris was charged with a yellow card, and, at least in my eyes, Moutinho became a legend.

     

Neymar: Brazil vs. Chile

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    Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

    Neymar was definitely missed in Brazil's embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semifinals.

    He can score, sure, but more importantly, he can flop.

    In a match against Chile, Neymar went soaring, high into the air, after a vicious blow by—the wind? The grass? His imagination?

    Nobody seemed to make contact with Neymar before he began his artistic tumble through space that ended, ironically, with the Brazilian star landing on his head and appearing to get a real-life, non-acted boo-boo.

    Watch the video here.

    Disclaimer: This is not referring to Neymar's back injury that kept him out of the semifinal match against Germany. That injury was inflicted against Colombia.

     

Thomas Mueller: Germany vs. Portugal

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    Francois Marit/Associated Press

    Young pre-school bullies often get a rise out of poking their victims and laughing maniacally.

    Poking another person is, while annoying, completely harmless and entirely painless. That is, unless you are an internationally acclaimed soccer star.

    Germany's Thomas Mueller, who got plenty of attention for scoring three goals in the game, was tapped ever so lightly on the face—or was it even really the face?—and went reeling to the ground.

    Pepe's little poke somehow caused injury throughout Muller's face, as he clutched his cheeks and eyes to stifle the pain.

    Man, that guy must have a really sensitive chin.

    Watch the video here.

Alexander Samedov: Russia vs. South Korea

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    OH, THE HUMANITY!

    Watch this GIF to see Russia's Alexander Samedov throw his hands to the heavens, fall to his knees and bellow some cry that I like to believe was the phrase typed above.

    Then notice what overwhelming force sends Samedov into this stupor.

    As he is trying to break free from a defender, Samedov brings back his own right leg and gently taps Son Heung-Min behind him.

    Yes, Samedov is the one who really initiates the contact. Yes, it is at most just a tap.

    And yes, this is the contact that catapults Samedov into a melodramatic fit, worthy of the climax of a movie and in need of its own soundtrack.

     

Luis Suarez: Uruguay vs. Italy

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    Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

    I like to imagine that Luis Suarez isn't a crazy cannibal who likes to bite people to bring them pain and suffering. I have more fun imagining that he was just raised this way.

    Luis: Dad, I never score any goals and my team always loses. I think I want to quit playing football when I get to middle school.

    Mr. Suarez: You just need to be a little more aggressive, buddy. Next time you go out there, if a kid gets in your way, just bite a chunk out of his neck.

    Luis: Won't I get in trouble?

    Mr. Suarez: Come on, Luis, this is football. If the other guy looks hurt, just grab your tooth and start crying.

    Suarez did bring back the old bite tactic in Uruguay's match against Italy, and he followed this make-believe advice perfectly. As soon as Giorgio Chiellini went down, Suarez reached for his tooth and started to pout.

    Because when you bite another man's shoulder, it's really your teeth that we're going to be worried about.

    Though it cost him the rest of the tournament, and more, you have to hand it to Suarez for taking a shot in the dark and trying to get away with the most disturbing foul of the World Cup.

Enner Valencia: Ecuador vs. Honduras

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    There seems to be a correlation in soccer between the vertical height of your flop and the likelihood of drawing a foul.

    Victor Bernardez of Honduras makes contact with Ecuador's Enner Valencia's foot, and Valencia takes advantage.

    Notice in this GIF that after being (very gently) kicked, he seems to take a moment to decide what exactly he should do next. He then remembers height-to-fouls correlation and leaps triumphantly into the air, clutching his foot and bracing himself as he crashes back into the earth, now a greater hero than he was when he last left it.

    The leaping flop can be a challenge to master, but Enner Valencia proved to the world that he can flop with the best of them.

Lee Chung-Yong: South Korea vs. Belgium

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Belgium must have been working some kind of strange black magic in their match against South Korea in the group stage of this year's World Cup.

    It seems their defenders were able to throw the South Koreans to the ground without even making any semblance of contact. Brilliant!

    Or, perhaps, Lee Chung-Yong is just well-trained on his own in the magic of flopping. Despite not being touched at all, the midfielder quite suddenly collapses onto his back at a rapid speed, flopping with an intensity and efficiency that is rarely seen.

    Watch the video here.

Fred: Brazil vs. Croatia

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Michael Jordan hit "The Shot."

    Dwight Clark made "The Catch."

    Frederico "Fred" Guedes saved his team and his country with "The Flop."

    In the 69th minute of a 1-1 match against Croatia during group play, Fred fell to the ground, threw his arms into the air and waited for a whistle to blow.

    It's unclear exactly what the foul was supposed to be, as there was clearly no contact on Fred and he just sort of sat down and waved his arms. But a penalty was called, Brazil scored and the match was as good as done.

    Another goal by the end of regulation sent Brazil to a 3-1 victory.

    Watch the video here.

Key and Peele

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    Comedic duo Key and Peele decided to dramatize the experience of the soccer flop and just how ridiculous the whole thing really is.

    In their video, a player goes down with an injury so severe that he is put in a stretcher and ascends up into heaven. He then tells God to hold a minute so he can return to earth and score the winning penalty kick.

    He is, of course, perfectly fine and in good health.

    The nine flops shown to you thus far in the slideshow were works of art—truly superb acting performances that should be watched and celebrated for years to come.

    Unfortunately, acting performances shouldn't be deciding the outcomes of athletic competitions.

    Next time an obvious flop is rewarded with a decisive penalty, someone might want to consider giving the referee a red card.


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