Big Ben’s World Cup Special: How to Stop the Neymar Flop

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Moscow, Russia: There has been a lot of talk about the soccer World Cup on these pages lately. If you thought I would buck that trend, you’d be wrong. Something has to be done about all the flopping and I am a man of solutions.

Flop, Flop, Flopping on Heaven’s Door

Every four years I start to think I could actually become a fan of soccer. But then comes another play where a guy rubs elbows with a  defender and goes down like he was taken out by a sniper. Then he rolls around on the ground like his balls were sliced with a razor and dipper in vinegar. But once the call is made, he’s up and running freely down the field. This is an abomination.

I really have an ouchie this time

My Euro friends like to say, “It’s part of the game. Look at basketball, where they are always embellishing to draw the foul.” That’s almost a fair point, but they don’t spent five minutes sizzling on the ground like bacon afterwards. I didn’t know any non-Brazilian who rooted for Brazil against Belgium, thanks to Neymar becoming the poster boy for diving. He was easy to root against.

When it’s not a Flop

Speaking of Neymar, in the 2014 World Cup, he was seriously injured on a play I thought was another flop – a lacerated spleen or something. My bust, Neymar! But that’s the rub, you can’t always tell and rules are set up to protect those who are actually injured.

I also understand that Neymar is one of the world’s best with the ball and he gets fouled a ton. The diving is sometimes an attempt to get the ref to notice intentional fouls. Like any sport, if the refs let it go they’ll keep doing it.

The all important swing vote

The Panel

My solution; a three person panel to determine if a player’s fall is legitimate or a flop. If two of the judges say flop, the player gets a yellow card. All three, a red card.

In my view, some qualifications for panel members would be the ability to recognize a faker, some experience with the pain of sports, and being medically qualified to judge injuries. We have narrowed our search and recommend the following three people:

Tommy Lee Jones: He qualifies on three fronts. Tommy is a accomplished thespian, starring in The Fugitive, Men in Black, and No Country for Old Men, among many others; he is a noted tough guy; and is an athlete, having played offensive guard for Harvard, and he still plays polo.

Dr. Mehmet Oz: The well-known Turkish cardiovascular surgeon and product pusher is noted for finding value in almost any quasi-medical intervention. Dr. Oz would be able to recognize a real injury on the pitch.

Rub some dirt on it

Brett Favre: A man who started 297 consecutive games in the NFL knows how to play through pain.

Why this Group?

Favre, who pretty much played through anything, is likely to be skeptical of players who don’t get up and at least try to keep playing. Dr. Oz, who is pretty gullible, is likely to side with the flopper in most cases. That leaves Jones as the swing vote. As a tough guy, you might think Jones would think most players were diving. But as a Harvard polo player, he is sure to be thoughtful as well.

A typical review might go like this:

Favre: I played when my arm was purple. That guy can keep going. FLOP.

Oz: Well, the tibia is a sensitive bone. It’s been proven in studies at the University of  Bermuda that sometimes even light contact can cause a pain sensation up the leg. REAL INJURY.

Jones: That guy is not in pain. I’ve seen better performances in middle school improv classes. FLOP.

Yellow card. Play on.

Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, no stranger to flopping. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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