Neymar’s World Cup will be remembered for excessive rolls and feigning injury, but it further highlights the inherent and ingrained sexism that is still rampant in football today.

Even by Neymar’s low standards, his antics against Mexico will be long remembered.

On the sidelines, he had his ankle stepped on by Miguel Layun and there’s no denying it would have been painful. But upon closer inspection, it was not a stamp, nor a stomp, nor even an action meant to do anything other than let Neymar know Layun was there. This, of course, does not defend Layun’s actions and the Mexican should have seen red.

But so should Neymar for his vast over-reaction.

As soon as he felt Layun’s studs make contact with his ankle, he was in hysterics. Even by his own excessive standards, this was something special from Neymar. He was writhing in agony, screaming and rolling while holding his ankle as if he was trying to keep his foot from falling off his leg.

SAMARA, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA – JULY 02: Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A minute or two later, he was back on his feet and perfectly fine. It was almost as if it wasn’t that bad and he was just play-acting for effect.

Imagine.

Leaving aside the conversation football needs to have about players like this who try to con the referee into believing they have been seriously hurt, the old sexist debate around football being a ‘man’s game’ has once again been ignited.

Casual sexism dictates that when a player acts in a way we think is weak or embarrassing, we insult them by equating them with something female. ‘Handbags at ten paces’ for a fight that goes nowhere. ‘Crying like a girl,’ is another. ‘Man up’.

SAMARA, RUSSIA - JULY 02: Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
SAMARA, RUSSIA – JULY 02: Neymar Jr of Brazil goes down injured during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at Samara Arena on July 2, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

‘Grow some balls’ is another common refrain from society when they think someone should be stronger or braver, ignoring the fact that the balls on a human body are just about the weakest and most fragile part of the anatomy.

Conversely, to convey weakness, we call someone a ‘pussy’ when, if you really think about it, a pussy can withstand some serious action. Just one thrust would render balls, and their owner, incapable of moving, yet the ‘weaker’ pussy can take them repeatedly. And that’s before we even discuss what happens down there during childbirth.

https://twitter.com/Notorious__Don/status/1013807239692541953

Speaking after the match, Mexico’s manager, Juan Carlos Osorio, said, “I think it’s a shame for football. 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 football isn’t a ‘man’s sport’. It is just a sport. Sport is not a gendered thing and this insistence that it’s a ‘contact sport’ is also nonsense. It’s a semi-contact sport. Rugby is a ‘contact’ sport. Football is not.

That is beside the point.

If you spend any time watching the women’s game you will see a far higher standard of professionalism from the players, even though many are just semi-pro. The players take the hits and respond appropriately.

The women playing don’t show ‘balls’. They leave that to the men.

Perhaps you might consider that the next time you reach for a lazy, sexist insult to hurl at the next man you think doesn’t match up to ‘manly’ standards. It is the men who roll around, so the sayings should be changed to something more appropriate.

May I suggest ‘acting like a total ballsack’ instead of ‘pussy’ for your future insults?

You know it makes sense…