Former Brazil striker Ronaldo came out in support of his countryman Neymar as criticism mounted against the pundits who have condemned his diving but ignored the fakery of other players.
Neymar has been slated, especially in Britain, for diving, rolling and exaggerating fouls.
Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio made a reference to “too much acting” and former internationals Alan Shearer, Pat Nevin, Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona were among those who criticised Neymar’s theatrics during the first four games of the tournament.
But Ronaldo said Neymar - who is one of the most fouled players in the entire tournament - needed more protecting.
“There are many ways to see football and interpret it,” Ronaldo told reporters.
“I am against all these opinions (on Neymar acting). He is an intelligent player in his movements and on how to defend himself from being tackled. I don’t think referees have been protecting him enough.
“When people repeatedly hit me I would feel a sense of unfairness. Criticism is nonsense. TV shows and newspapers just want to fill the space.”
Ronaldo’s comments came as fans and pundits, many of them Brazilians, hit out at what they saw as play-acting by English players in their shoot-out win over Colombia.