This is Why Americans Don’t Like Soccer

epa04252601 Brazil's Fred (C) is tackled by Croatia's Dejan Lovren (L) in the penalty box during the FIFA World Cup 2014 group A preliminary round match between Brazil and Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 12 June 2014. (RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial Use Only, not used in association with any commercial entity - Images must not be used in any form of alert service or push service of any kind including via mobile alert services, downloads to mobile devices or MMS messaging - Images must appear as still images and must not emulate match action video footage - No alteration is made to, and no text or image is superimposed over, any published image which: (a) intentionally obscures or removes a sponsor identification image; or (b) adds or overlays the commercial identification of any third party which is not officially associated with the FIFA World Cup) EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Brazil's Fred is tackled by Croatia's Dejan Lovren in the penalty box.

We’re one game into the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and already the biggest complaint Americans have with the sport of soccer has reared its ugly head: Are they serious with all this flopping? Brazil player Fred (that’s his name) earned a penalty kick in a tie game in the 71st minute by leaning back into Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, who wasn’t there, and throwing his arms up in the air before falling to the ground. The sell job was good enough to convince referee Yuichi Nishimura to award the host country’s team a penalty shot. And that, as they say, was that.

To Americans used to watching other sports, that kind of behavior seems ridiculous. The NBA fines players $5,000 if they’re deemed to have flopped. NFL and NHL fans pride themselves on the toughness of their teams.

The blame for flopping in soccer shouldn’t rest so much on the player who committed the act—because he can get away with it -- but on the sport itself for accepting it.

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“I cannot blame Fred at all — everyone tries it…” Croatia manager Niko Kovac said afterward. “Everybody is trying to do that. Like it or not, it’s part of football. I don’t blame him. I blame the referee.”

Croatia lost the most important game in four years because someone faked going down and got away with it. That shouldn’t be OK.