There is no debating that Netherlands star Arjen Robben is a player who divides the masses. He has the reputation of diving, which is deserved. However, his ability is hard to downplay, and he has had a major part in getting the Oranje to the final eight. He hit the ground a few times against Mexico in a 2014 World Cup Round of 16 matchup on Sunday. However, the last time he hit the ground in extra time was not a dive.
Take a look at the image at the top of this post. There is clear evidence that Rafa Marquez just barely stepped on his toes. Marquez also lunged at the ball, which is never good for a defender. For some, this is not enough to flop the way Robben went down. It was a bit embellished, but most players in that position with the match on the line would have acted a bit.
After the contact, Robben had to swing his right leg around the right leg of Marquez, which threw him off balance. The extra movement on his leg could have also helped the referee make the decision for the yellow card.
Robben is a smart player, so he tries to draw fouls. Despite mainly going left and only being able to go one way, he is able to keep the ball more often than not in this situation. It is hard to say how much was going through his head as he got to the end line. However, Robben has not been given a yellow card in the competition, so he could afford an embellishment call.
There is also the “ball don’t lie” aspect of the call. Robben was fouled in the box twice at the end of the first half without a call. Although it was another theatrical flop by Robben, there were two points of contact by Mexico defenders Marquez and Hector Moreno. Obviously, there is no way to say a penalty would have been converted in this situation, but Pedro Proenca missed the call. Robben apologized for his other dive in the first half that was clearly an act.
The last point is that Mexico sat back for the last 20 minutes of this match trying to hold off the Netherlands. Don’t think the referee doesn’t understand this and starts thinking about the flow of the match. Mexico was playing not to lose, and this is begging for something bad to happen.
For those of you NFL aficionados, this is like playing the prevent defense and giving up big chunks of yards, hoping the defense can put up a goal-line stand. One would hope that this doesn’t sway the referee, but it can. Mexico played a great match in the first 70 minutes, so why change what they were doing, in turn giving the Netherlands almost all of the possession?
Robben has dived enough to make it hard for people to be objective. That is fair. In this case, Marquez put the referee in a situation to make a call. He got the call right.