Let me start by saying that I do not condone diving. Put plain and simply; it is cheating. On Tuesday night Scott Brown was sent of for a small kick at Neymar. While I don’t agree with the way the Brazilian writhed around in agony, I don’t feel he is deserving of people calling him a cheat.
I think everyone is in agreement that Brown deserved the red card he got; it was a petulant move from one of Celtic’s most experienced players. Referee Stéphane Lannoy reached for his yellow card for the initial trip but after seeing Neymar’s reaction it became clear that Brown was deserving of something more, a red in this incident.
I personally see diving as trying to trick the referee into a wrong decision, what Neymar did was actually help the referee into making the right one. Let me recall Marouane Chamakh’s dive on the weekend against Southampton, the centre forward went down before being touched, in an attempt to con the referee into giving a penalty and potentially sending off Artur Boruc in the process. Let’s hypothetically say that Chamakh’s dive went unnoticed and Palace went a man and a goal up, this would’ve given them a completely unfair and unjust advantage. Now let me distinguish the difference between this and Neymar’s ‘diving’ against Celtic. Celtic deserved to be a man down, the red card was the correct decision and Barcelona went on to win the game. Again let’s talk about things hypothetically, assume that Neymar didn’t react to the kick and Celtic incorrectly kept 11 men on the pitch. If Celtic then went on to win the game (all hypothetically remember), surely it’s Brown who is the cheater here. A clear red card offence went unpunished and gave his team an unfair advantage. Neymar was ensuring that his team got the advantage that they warranted.
Many after the game said that Neymar had got Scott Brown sent off and I agree, Neymar did get Scott Brown sent off. What’s wrong with that however? It wasn’t as though he didn’t kick out at Neymar after the ball had gone. I can accept that if players start taking the game into their own hands then referees will lose complete control. Should Neymar have rolled around on the floor as though he’d just been booted properly? Probably not, it was nothing short of play-acting. Did Neymar’s play-acting help ensure the correct decision was made? Yes.