Why Are Soccer Players So Dramatic? (The Core Problem)

Dramatic actions by soccer players have caught the attention of many people around the world.

I have met a lot of people who know nothing about soccer except the fact that soccer players usually act dramatically on the field.

Throughout my entire journey with soccer, I have never felt more frustrated than when I watch some of the players fake injuries just to waste their opponent’s precious time, even if these players are on my favorite team’s side.

But as we all know, there are reasons behind almost everything, including the dramatic flopping that the soccer players are known for around the world.

In general, soccer players act dramatically and fake injuries to win set-pieces from a dangerous place. They also do it to waste their opponent’s time and secure victory, to cause their opponent a yellow card or a red card, and to disrupt the flow of the game.

So there you have it. These are the most common reasons why you see soccer players flipping around and making a dramatic scene out of nothing. Next we will be going through the mentioned reasons one by one in more detail.

1- Players act dramatically to waste their opponent’s time

As I have mentioned before, faking injuries in a dramatic way during the end of a soccer game can be very frustrating for a lot of viewers.

However, to the soccer players of the winning team, it means that they are one step closer to securing victory.

At the end of the day, people are going to remember the results and not the exact steps of how the results were achieved.

It’s almost predictable at this point. Whenever you are watching a very important match between 2 teams, and one of these teams is winning by a very small margin, then you will most likely see the players of the winning team doing their best to waste their opponent’s time.

Wasting time during the end of a soccer game is a common practice in many soccer leagues. Some coaches even make very late substitutions just to waste the opponent’s remaining time

But the main method of wasting time during the last minutes of a soccer game is by falling on the ground and acting dramatically to win more seconds for your team.

If you come from a basketball background, or from any other sport that pauses the clock whenever the game is stopped, then you might wonder how “wasting time” in soccer is possible in the first place.

Well, the quick and simple explanation to you is that the clock literally does not stop for ANY reason in soccer.

It just keeps ticking even if the ball is out of play for minutes. Referees usually add some extra time at the end of the game to compensate for the time lost, but the time added is almost never even close to the actual time wasted during the game, especially during the last minutes.

You can learn more about how the clock exactly works in soccer here before you move on to the next section if you want.

2- Soccer players flop to win dangerous set-pieces

Set pieces are a common way to score a goal or to assist a goal at least

For example, if a soccer player gets fouled inside the penalty area then they’ll win a penalty which usually has a very high chance of converting to a goal.

Free kicks can also be very dangerous when they are close to the opponent’s net.

So it makes sense for a soccer player to try their best to win a penalty or any other dangerous set piece that can put their team in an advantage.

Some players however take it to the extreme and try to win a dangerous set piece by faking injury and by acting dramatically whenever any of their opponent players touches them inside a sensitive area on the field.

Do you know that winning a set piece in a dangerous area is sometimes used as a strategy by soccer teams? Especially if this team has a player who has a high tendency of converting set pieces into goals.

In other words, players are sometimes trained to win set pieces by making the opponent hit them unintentionally then making a dramatic scene out of it to win a foul.

As you can tell, trying to win a set piece will definitely require some exaggeration from the player who is trying their best to get fouled somewhere close to their opponent’s net.

3- Players may exaggerate to ensure that their opponents are carded

In general, the players who fall down due to a strong contact with an opponent deserve a foul. However, some players will try to exaggerate a lot just to make the referee take out their yellow or red card.

In other words, even if a player knows that they have already won a foul, they might still try to act dramatically to make the referee think that the impact was very strong and eventually card the offender.

If you are a person who is interested in the World Cup in general, Then I am sure that you have at least heard of Neymar’s dramatic fake injuries.

If you haven’t then you are missing out on a lot. Here, watch this.

There are many other players that try their best to exaggerate whenever they get fouled, but Neymar usually gets the attention because he is literally one of the best soccer players of his time.

4- Soccer players act dramatically to disrupt the flow of the game

The last point on my list is the fact that some soccer players flop and act dramatically just to disrupt the opponent’s game flow.

There are moments during a soccer game when one of the teams gains a boost of momentum and motivation for a few minutes. 

These moments are either caused by the cheering of the audience, or by scoring a goal, or by anything else.

When these moments occur, the opponent team will try their best to disrupt this momentum, and one of the most common ways to do so is by diving and wasting as much time as possible till the opponents cool down and get back to their normal state.

With that said, I will end my list of the most common reasons behind dramatic scenes in soccer, but one thing that I should mention here before we move on to other questions is this:

There is a single main referee overseeing 22 players on the field

Referees will even have to watch the coaches these days, and they can even card them too

The root of most of the reasons mentioned above is the fact that the referee can’t oversee every single detail during a soccer match.

Remember that there are 22 players on the field, and a single main referee. It’s true that there are assistant referees on the sides of the fields. Still though, the referees of the game will find it difficult to focus on everything happening on the field.

With that said, the referee might not even notice some fouls unless the players being fouled act dramatically to gain the attention of the referee.

This is something that you can clearly see in the video linked above. Notice how Neymar tries his best to act dramatically just to make the referee notice the fact that the opponent player stepped on Neymar’s leg intentionally.

It’s true that this exaggeration by Neymar or by any other soccer player can look silly and shameful. However, many soccer players find it necessary to gain the referee’s attention on important matters on the field.

So in simple words, flopping and acting dramatically have been a core part of the game since the beginning, and the root of this problem is the fact that referees will simply not be able to notice every single detail on the field unless the detail is made obvious to the referee by the players themselves.

Hopefully with the introduction of the VAR a few years ago, the dramatic scenes that the soccer players are known for start to decrease and disappear over time. 

I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t see this happening anytime soon, but one can only hope.

Are dramatic actions a universal theme in soccer?

One thing that I wanted to make clear is the fact that acting dramatically on the field is not universal in soccer.

For example, women’s soccer has much less dramatic scenes and fake injury acts than men’s soccer in general.

The main reason why soccer players have gained the reputation of faking injuries and being dramatic is because these fake injuries are happening in the world cup, which is arguably the biggest sports event in the world.

Billions of people watch the world cup every 4 years. In other words, billions of people have watched great soccer players like Neymar making a scene just to win a foul.

But this doesn’t mean that soccer itself is full of these dramatic scenes. Women’s soccer can be used as an example.

According to the studies mentioned in this Live Science article, female soccer players have far less dramatic fake injuries than male soccer players in general.

So in simple words, soccer is completely possible without the flopping and the fake injuries that we regularly see in some of the biggest soccer competitions in the world, which brings me to the next and final question in this article.

Is flopping punished in soccer?

Soccer referees are required by the laws of the game to punish the players who try to gain an advantage by faking injuries. The punishment is either a yellow card or a red card (being sent off).

However the real question is this: How effective is this kind of punishment? 

I personally think that this kind of punishment is nearly useless and here are my reasons:

Most of the time, there is at least some form of impact between the players when one of these players try to exaggerate. 

This means that the referee will have a very hard time deciding whether or not the player is actually faking injury to win an advantage.

Since many referees try their best to avoid any controversial decisions, they usually take the safe side and assume that the player that is being dramatic was really hit but the hit doesn’t require a foul. 

But that also means that the referee does not card the player that is acting dramatic on the ground.

Another reason behind the ineffectiveness of the punishment system when it comes to flopping in soccer is the fact that yellow cards and red cards are sometimes meaningless.

For example, if a player’s team is on top of the scoresheet by a single goal during a world cup final, and the game is about to end, does getting a yellow card or even a red card really matter during the last few minutes of one of the most important matches in the player’s career?

I don’t think so. For example, a player can try their best to fake injury during the last minutes of a world cup final in order to waste precious minutes for the opponent team. 

The player might get a yellow card, but this card is literally nothing compared to the huge advantage the player gains from acting dramatically.

Even if the referee uses a red card against the player (which is very rare when it comes to wasting time and acting dramatically), then it won’t be the end of the world since the player’s team is already a few minutes away from victory.

In simple words, yellow cards and red cards are not good enough as a punishment system for soccer players who try to fake their injuries whenever they can.

With that said, I will end my article here. Here is a summary of what you have just read.


Soccer players act dramatically when they get hit by their opponent for the following reasons:

  • To waste the opponent’s time
  • To win a set piece
  • To cause their opponent to get carded
  • To disrupt the flow of the game

Flopping in soccer is well known but it isn’t universal. Women’s soccer has much less flopping than Men’s soccer for example.

In general, the punishment system for flopping and dramatic fake injuries in soccer is not good enough which is one of the reasons why we still see a lot of these actions in soccer up until this day.