Now that the World Cup is in its final stages, soccer fans may want to have some insight into whether players who fall to the turf after contact and writhe in apparent pain are actually injured – as was the case with Brazil’s star forward Neymar in Friday’s quarterfinal match against Colombia -- or just acting.
According to Daryl Rosenbaum, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who has published research on the subject, there are tell-tale signs to look for when a player goes down with an apparent injury after contact with another player. Among them are:
• How much time elapses between when the player is hit and when he reacts.
• Where the player actually gets hit as opposed to where he grabs.
• Whether he plays peek-a-boo to see if the referee is watching.
In a 2010 study that reviewed 89 international men’s soccer matches, Rosenbaum found that there were on average of 11 incidents of apparent injuries per game but that only 7.2 percent of these qualified as “definite” injuries, those which required a player to leave the game within five minutes or that caused visible bleeding.
This is of particular concern because frequent injury fabrication or exaggeration of severity can make it difficult for referees to determine whether an apparent injury warrants an immediate stoppage of play. This could result in treatment delay for truly injured players or make them more vulnerable to further contact and increased injury.
“I think this study confirmed what most fans already suspected -- that soccer players go down with apparent injuries quite often,” Rosenbaum said. “And it couldn’t prove whether any actual faking occurred, I do think it showed that there is quite a discrepancy between the agony frequently displayed by players and how rarely they are hurt badly enough to actually have to leave the game.”
To arrange an interview with Rosenbaum, contact Marguerite Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-716-2415.