If you were lucky enough to view the United States pull off an amazing comeback against Brazil in the FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday, you also had a chance to view a medical miracle. In the 115th minute, Brazilian defender Erika Christiano Dos Santos collapsed in a heap in front of the Brazilian goal, apparently seriously injured. With the United States down 2-1, play was stopped for 90 crucial seconds as the clock continued to tick down to the USA's first quarterfinal loss in the history of the Women's World Cup. In that time, Erika was attended to by FIFA medical staff and was eventually carried off the field by stretcher.
Yet, as soon as Erika was taken off the field, an apparent miracle occurred. She sat up, unhitched her bindings to the stretcher, and jogged back to her sideline apparently completely healed. However, when the boos and whistles began to rain down upon her in torrents, a limp suddenly re-entered her stride.
As you are undoubtedly aware, Erika'
s "injury" was likely not an injury at all, but a peculiar facet of the game of soccer called "simulating"
- an act more popularly known as "flopping." This technique, whereby a player will fake an injury to deliberately waste time
or to draw the attention
of the referee, has been a major fixture of the men's game for a long time, and it has recently become more prominent in the women's game, with Erika's "resurrection"
serving as a prime example.
Researchers at Wake Forest University recently took it upon themselves to study injury simulation in the women's game. After examining broadcast recordings of 47 matches from two different tournaments, they found that of the 5.74 injuries that occurred per game, 0.78 injuries were "definite" (whereby a player withdrew from participation in a game within 5 minutes or if bleeding was visible) and 4.96 injuries were "questionable" (the remaining incidents). This amount of questionable injuries seems high, but it is still significantly less than the men's game, where definite injuries made up only 7.2 percent of all injuries, versus 13.7 percent for women.
While the Academy Awards could have discovered numerous nominees for "best female performance" in the epic USA-Brazil quarterfinal match on Sunday, the men still have the overall edge in the acting category, and a huge deficit in the sportsmanship category.