Strasbourg Player’s Comments On Neymar Injury Worse Than Foul Itself

Neymar left Wednesday’s match after getting kicked all over the place by Strasbourg players.

A lot of people don’t like Neymar. 

I get that — he went overboard with the theatrics at last summer’s World Cup.

But what Strasbourg's Anthony Gonçalves said after yet another Neymar injury crosses the line more than any Neymar dive. It’s dangerous territory, something that reflects a societal issue as well.

Neymar was taken out in the 62nd minute of Wednesday’s Coupe de France match against Strasbourg, a 2-0 PSG win through goals from Edinson Cavani and Ángel Di María. 

The Brazilian was fouled three times in a short sequence about 10 minutes into the second half by Moataz Zemzemi, a 19-year-old Tunisian. Neymar could’ve gone down on each foul but — despite his reputation as a diver — tried to stay on his feet until the third challenge brought him down. 

It was on one of these kicks from Zemzemi on Neymar that the PSG No. 10 appears to have been injured. However, Neymar kept playing, spurred on by adrenaline and anger. Moments later, he pulled off a ridiculous rainbow over Zemzemi before ripping a shot at goal that whizzed just outside the far post. 

See the sequence here: 

Here’s a close-up replay of Neymar appearing to roll his ankle.

The severity of Neymar’s injury is not yet known. The replay doesn’t actually look too bad, perhaps just a sprained ankle. Given his history of foot injuries, it could be something much worse. Reports suggested he was crying as he left the pitch, which wouldn’t be surprising, but it appears he was more distraught than tearful. 

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PSG released a statement on the injury: “Initial examinations have revealed a painful recurrence of his injury to the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. The treatment of this injury will depend on how it evolves over the next few days. All options can be envisaged at this time."

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel added: "Neymar is worried because it is the same foot, his right foot, in the same area. If Neymar asks to come off, it is always something complicated."

This comes nearly 11 months to the day of Neymar’s last major injury, when he went down against Marseille on Feb. 26. Both injuries occurred just before the birthday of Neymar’s sister, Rafaella Santos, who will turn 23 on March 11. This of course has prompted numerous conspiracy theories about Neymar always being hurt around his sister’s birthday so he can celebrate it with her. 

Regardless of the severity and sincerity of Neymar’s injury, what remains are the comments from Strasbourg midfielder Anthony Gonçalves after the match. If you speak French, you can listen to them here. I’ll do my best to translate the important bits below.

“He is a great player,” Gonçalves said of Neymar. “But if you play like that, then don't complain if you take some knocks. We aren't here so he has fun at our expense. We aren't here to make him look good. If Neymar wants to have fun, we are responding with the weapons we have."

On first glance, what Gonçalves says makes a lot of sense. If you dance around and try to make us look like fools, don’t expect us to sit back and take it. 

But in reality, it’s a classic case of blaming the victim, something that happens far too often in today's society. 

It’s exactly like saying: “If that woman hadn’t dressed up like that, maybe she wouldn’t have been raped.”

It’s not Neymar’s fault he’s so good on the ball he can pull off moves that embarrass opponents — dribbling past someone is part of soccer. Neymar is just trying to play the game; Strasbourg is trying to stop him from playing the game. 

In a way, Gonçalves and Zemzemi are within their rights to hack Neymar at every opportunity; it’s up to the referee to deem when it’s too much and show a yellow or red card. But Gonçalves is undoubtedly in the wrong to blame Neymar for these brutish tactics. And the referee must do better to prevent said offenses from getting out of hand — something he clearly failed to do on Wednesday. 

Instead of blaming Neymar for being better than them, Strasbourg players either need to git gud or shut the fuck up. 

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Neymar’s latest injury is just another example of why the Brazilian often goes to ground so easily — when he doesn’t, he gets crushed up by defenders who aren’t good enough to stop him without fouling. 

Maybe Neymar needs to dive more. It beats the alternative of seeing him injured, missing some of the biggest matches of the year. 

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