First off, the best flop from past World Cups would likely have to be the notorious Rivaldo flop near the corner flag in the 2002 World Cup. As flops go, if he were a singer, his name would have to be The Big Bopper.
Another famous example, coincidentally from Brazil (or is it?), would be the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match in which Socrates and his crew—including Junior and Careca—were up against Platini, Giresse, Tigana, and the elegant French. This particular case, in fairness, borders on flopping by way of flopping skills put to use. Branco went down in the French penalty box and rolled around searching for the pain. Was he fouled, or wasn’t he? It was hard to tell in real time, though it definitely looked like a foul. However, some flopping know-how (which we’ll cover momentarily) was definitely added a penalty. When the foul was awarded, he raised his arms in victory. Then Zico missed the penalty kick.
In general, flopping has been regarded by many as, (1) a keen way of getting the referee to call fouls on your behalf, (2) a clever way to waste time near the end of a game to ensure a victory, and, (3) a complete nuisance.
If anything positive can be said about the flopping strategy, it’s this: The main intent is to get the referee to call a foul immediately and to work the referee so that he calls more fouls later in the game. However, many people argue it’s just a waste of time. Is it strategy? Is it calling out for help on a deeper level than just a foul? The flop is intriguing on many levels. For those new to the flop, it can be described in the following ways.
Scenario One: A typical flop is when a player is not fouled at all but desperately wants to fool the referee into thinking a foul has occurred. So they fake a foul, along with a fake injury that was caused by the fake foul. Basically, there’s a lot of fakery going on. This includes rolling on the ground, writhing in pain, moaning, wincing, grabbing the legs, and calling for the medical staff, along with the stretcher, along with a priest to administer last rites. “Oh, my ankle! Oh, dear God, the agony! Oh, the agony! Maybe my $20 million contract will be able to afford a pair of crutches for all the pain I’m enduring!” Sometimes referees can be fooled. “Is he really hurt? Was that really a foul? What am I not seeing out here?” This is what the flopper wants the referee to think. It’s an ongoing game of acting. And the referee has to be on high alert for such a thing.
Scenario Two: A player gets slightly fouled and embellishes the affair by rolling around on the ground, accompanied by the shenanigans: grimacing and writhing in pain and what not, hoping the referee gives a yellow card.
Scenario Three: There are times, in fact, when a real foul occurs, a kick to the leg for instance, which may in fact hurt, and the injured player uses flopping know-how to get the point across to the referee that a yellow card should be shown. So, in fact, in this case, it wouldn’t be a flop. However, sometimes it’s hard for the referee to see the foul committed, and, based on past flopping, the whole “don’t cry wolf” element is being considered. Not wanting to be fooled, the referee is conflicted based on all past flopping activity, trickery, and apropos shenanigans. So therefore, previous floppers of the Scenario One persuasion can be blamed for the referee not being sympathetic when a real foul occurs. The usual outcome: The cards stay in the pocket. The moral to the story: Flopping doesn’t pay. A few teams that might lead the flopping category: Serbia, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, Nigeria, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, and Uruguay.