No matter how you feel about him personally, there are two undeniable truths about Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior: he’s one of the best soccer players (and therefore, athletes) in the world, and he’s one of the biggest divers in the world.
In fact, Neymar’s diving prowess is so well-recognized that it spawned an international viral “challenge” over the summer:
Now, while it’s one thing for an average fan sitting on their couch or scrolling through Twitter to criticize Neymar’s nefarious diving habits, it’s another thing entirely for a fellow athlete to publicly speak out, especially when that athlete comes from a sport that is essentially synonymous with falling.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a 21-year-old Russian professional figure skater, took to Twitter to mock Neymar’s play-acting in PSG’s recent Champions League victory over Liverpool, saying that he fell over more in that one game than she has in her entire career:
“Just saw PSG – Liverpool. In my career I’ve fell on ice less times than Neymar in 90 minutes,” Tuktamysheva tweeted.
Just saw PSG – Liverpool. In my career I’ve fell on ice less times than Neymar in 90 minutes#PSGLFC
— Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (@TuktikLiza) November 28, 2018
Tuktamysheva is no slouch, either, as she is the 2015 World champion, the 2015 European champion, the 2014–15 Grand Prix Final champion and the 2013 Russian national champion.
And Tuktamysheva was not the only one to be publically critical of Neymar, as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that PSG, especially Neymar, made his team “look like butchers” with their antics:
“It was clever of PSG [to dive], especially Neymar, but a lot of other players went down like it was really something serious and we were not that calm any more,” Klopp said in the post game press conference.
Scottish captain and Liverpool left-back Andy Roberston echoed Klopp’s sentiment, saying that PSG was “looking to waste time”:
“I suppose they were in the lead and they were looking to waste time. You can use gamesmanship, playacting, you can use it all really,” Robertson told Sky Sports.
“I would like to know how much time they wasted … it was frustrating. But when you play against PSG you know it’s something you’re going to come up against especially with him (Neymar). It wasn’t something we quite dealt with tonight.
“It’s frustrating when he is falling like he is. It’s all part and parcel of his game and we needed to deal with that.
While Tuktamysheva’s comment may be tongue-in-cheek, it just goes to show how Neymar’s habits have altered his public perception.
Yes, he is an utterly brilliant footballer, but these days — especially since the World Cup — his diving is discussed far more than his skill, which is a shame when you consider he’s one of the top five best players on Planet Earth.