In Sunday's 1-1 draw with Brazil, Switzerland committed 19 fouls. The 26-year-old star striker received as many as 10 of them, more than any other player in the last 20 years since the 1998 World Cup in France, when England's Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times by Tunisia.
According to ESPN, it is also the most fouls suffered by a Brazilian player in a World Cup match since 1966, when Portugal's rough tactics led to the legendary Pele being kicked out of the tournament.
Neymar's ability often makes him a target of rough defenders. In 2014, an injury-causing tackle by Colombian defender Juan Zuniga ended the 2014 World Cup for Neymar. Without Neymar, the Brazilian team went on to get destroyed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-final, marking the worst defeat in the country's history.
Neymar's performance prompted mixed reactions on Twitter.
Many fans have sent their support to Neymar, saying the referee was partly to blame.
I actually agree with Lalas. Wow. That was a hack-a-shack type approach with Neymar and the ref empowered it with no deterring— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) 17 июня 2018 г.
Poor refereeing. Ref needs to step in after first couple fouls and start giving cards, even for innocuous fouls. Protect ALL players, not just Neymar. There needs to be a message sent from ref to players that this is not ok— Dr. Who??? (@BlazingCold) 18 июня 2018 г.
Looks like the Switzerland strategy vs @neymarjr was similar to @nfl Press-Man teams jamming and holding beyond the 5-yard contact zone.. Play the odds that the refs won’t call every foul.. That’s how the @Seahawks used to do it with the “LOB” #WorldCup
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) 17 июня 2018 г.
Some fans, however, suggested it was Neymar's "selfish" attitude that was behind the number of fouls he had received.
Neymar plays selfishly though.. he cost his team aswell. Like dude, If the whole defence is on you… You NEED to pass the ball or you cause loss of possession.. Neymar wanted to just shine— Rouge (@Rouge_Rapper) 17 июня 2018 г.
Others went further, contending that it was not only the Swiss team that made the striker fall down.
I love Neymar but man any contact and he goes down— Austin Podobnik™ (@AustinP34) 17 июня 2018 г.
Falling over isn’t a foul.— Keith Mandemant (@KeithMandemant) 17 июня 2018 г.
Best Dive Award 2018 goes to NEYMAR!!!— BannedByDefault (@BannedDefault) 17 июня 2018 г.