World Cup memes: After Mexico vs Brazil, Neymar defends 'acting'

The Brazilian star responds to criticisms about his dramatic roll on the pitch after a Mexican player stepped on his foot.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
3 min read

Was Oprah's support a jinx? Just a day after the talk-show mogul threw her support behind Mexico in the World Cup, the Mexican team got knocked out by powerhouse Brazil.

Along the way, Brazilian star Neymar pulled yet another impressive fake-out (remember this one?). Mexico player Miguel Layun stepped on Neymar's ankle, and the Brazilian star's dramatic overreaction created more memes about how he deserves an Academy Award for his acting. 

"Here's Neymar's ankle getting stepped on before he died from the injury and was resurrected," joked one. 

Wrote BBC 5 Live Sport, "Neymar claims Layun stood on his ankle on the touchline. But his reaction was 'as if there were invisible crocodiles surrounding the edge of the pitch.'"

Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio didn't mention Neymar's name, but it seems clear that he was talking about the superstar in a quote reported by the Guardian

"I think it's a shame for football," Osorio said. "We wasted a lot of time because of one player. We stopped too often. I think this is a very negative example for the world of football and all the children who are following this game. This is a strong sport, a man's sport and I think there shouldn't be so much acting."

But after the game, the player himself dismissed the criticism. 

"I think it's more an attempt to undermine me than anything else," Neymar said, according to The Guardian. "I am here to win with my teammates."

On his Twitter account, the player stuck only to praising God and celebrating his team's win, with no mention of the in-game drama. "To you, all honor and all glory God," he wrote.

And some were quick to point out the Mexico coach would have a stronger complaint had his team played better. Wrote one Twitter user, "Mexico was outplayed. To blame Neymar is to distract from their performance."

Neymar's fans also defended the star, pointing out that he scored one of Brazil's two goals, and many were furious Layun wasn't sent off for stepping on Neymar.

Wrote one, "To all the idiots making memes & making fun of Neymar. He was already injured & Mexican player did this. It's easy to judge but only he knew how he felt, after that he slowed down a bit because of pain. Y'all ignore the fact Brazil won bc of him & start trolling."

Said another, "For all of you who are saying that Neymar was too exaggerated today, let me step on your ankle with metal spikes."

Mexico's many supporters were justifiably bummed out by the loss, while Brazil fans went a little nuts. Wrote one Mexico fan, "After the #MexicoVsBrasil game, I showered in my own tears."

The day's second match ended with Belgium eliminating Japan 3-2 after being down 0-2.

But the Japanese team heads for home with a stellar reputation, thanks in part to their fans regularly cleaning up stadiums after their games. Wrote one fan with a pro-Mexico nickname, "Japan deserved better, all the Japanese fans we met in Moscow were great." Added another, "Belgium won the match, Japan won our hearts. "

On Wednesday, Sweden plays Switzerland, and Colombia takes on England.

First published, July 2, 11:43 a.m. PT. 
Update, 3:55 p.m. PT: Adds Neymar's reaction to Mexican coach's statement. Added Japan-Belgium links.