After a decade of duopoly, the FIFA-run vote to crown soccer’s best player finally seems open to third parties after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo left the World Cup early.
Cutting out the play-acting would also help Neymar win votes, 1990 World Cup winner Lothar Matthaeus said.
“We need players like Neymar,” said the former West Germany captain, who won the inaugural FIFA world player award in 1991. “But not with this acting what he was doing now in each game.”
A debate about Neymar faking injury and overreacting to tackles is polarizing opinion between European outrage and Brazilian defense.
Former England forward Alan Shearer called Neymar’s behavior “absolutely pathetic”. Neymar’s theatrics distracted from Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico that took the five-time champion into the quarterfinals.
Brazil great Ronaldo said: “The criticism is nonsense. I am against all these opinions you mentioned. I don’t think referees have been protecting him enough.”
Matthaeus said :”Sure, Neymar – when he will win the World Cup. You have to win titles with your team. It’s easy to win the title in France. For me, Neymar this season, he did not show until now he can be the best.”
“The results for Neymar with the national team are incredible and he’s still not at his best,” Ronaldo said.
Matthaeus suggested an 11th year of Messi-Ronaldo dominance is likely. “I give them maybe one or two years more,” he said, “then there will come a change for this award.”
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