Watching Neymar’s theatrics at the World Cup is like watching a couple fight in public: it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing, but you just can’t look away.
Swiss broadcaster RTS has calculated the amount of time that the Brazilian star has spent rolling and twisting in pain – real, imagined and everything in between – and concluded that Neymar has spent a staggering 14 minutes on the ground in the four matches he has played so far.
That’s almost a whole half of extra time, and about the same amount of time the whole team has spent celebrating the seven goals they’ve scored in the tournament. At a rate of 3.5 minutes on the ground per game, if Brazil reaches the final and Neymar keeps it up, he’ll have spent almost 25 minutes on the ground for the whole tournament.
But all that acting has an up side. Neymar has inspired endless memes and video mashups from fans and even a spot from the South African branch of KFC, which had a player rolling endlessly from the stadium, through the city’s streets and bridges until he reaches one of the restaurants of the chain.
Neymar responded to the criticism after the game with Mexico, making it clear that he doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. “Look, I think it’s more of an attempt to undermine me than anything else,” he said, adding “I don’t care much for criticism, not even from the press because in a way this can influence athletes.”
Brazil will face Belgium on Friday, and the eyes of the world (and a few stopwatches) will be on Neymar as soon as he hits the ground.