Robben: I shouldn't be punished for being honest about diving

The Netherlands winger feels people should accept his admission of diving in the last 16 game against Mexico, stressing that he does not fear any repercussions after the incident

Arjen Robben believes that he has been “honest and fair” over his diving in Netherlands’ game with Mexico and it is time to move on.

The 30-year-old was put under scrutiny after winning a decisive penalty in the Oranje’s 2-1 second round win, particularly after he admitted that he had tried to earn a free kick despite feeling no contact in the first half of the encounter.

However, despite expressing regret for his dive, Robben was adamant he was fouled by Rafael Marquez for the penalty and feels that a line should now be drawn under the affair.

“I can only repeat what I said after the match,” the Dutchman said in an interview with the Times of India.

“I really must apologise as in the first half I took a dive and I really shouldn’t do that. That was a stupid thing to do but sometimes you’re expecting to be struck, then they pull their leg away at the last minute and I went to the ground without a touch.

“But I was fouled by Marquez! You can see it on television. So the one at the end was a penalty.

“Everyone is allowed to have their opinion. I said it before the game, I also say it now that I will say what I think is honest and fair. Not everyone has to agree with me, they just need to respect whatever happened.

“I am an honest guy and said what I did was wrong. That should be the end of the story. Maybe sometimes you are punished for honesty but I always prefer to be honest!”

Netherlands now face Costa Rica in their quarter-final in Salvador on Saturday and Robben admits that he regrets the fact his comments have overshadowed his side’s achievements.

“It is a shame there is so much discussion because we put on a great performance as a team,” he acknowledged.

“That should be the main thing. Sometimes, you know, I like to be honest and I again apologise for this action in the first half but that is football. It had nothing to do with the result of the game.

“It was a lot of hard work and some work and some luck for us in the end to turn things around so late in the game against Mexico. It was a deserving win in the end and we are proud to reach the quarter-finals.

“Costa Rica are difficult opponents, otherwise they wouldn’t have ended up in a quarter-final topping a group with Uruguay, Italy and England, and then beating Greece. It won’t be easy for us.”

Beckenbauer warns 'lucky' Neuer over risky sweeping

The West Germany great suggested the goalkeeper risked being sent off against Algeria after rushing from his goal on a number of occasions and must be careful against France

Franz Beckenbauer has urged Manuel Neuer to be careful with his tendency to act as a sweeper in Germany’s 2-1 win over Algeria.

Die Nationalmannschaft progressed to the quarter-finals following a tight encounter on Monday night, with extra-time strikes from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil giving them a two-goal before Abdelmoumene Djabou pulled one back late on.

Neuer’s performance in the game in Porto Alegre was defined by the number of occasions that he rushed from his box to help his defence and, whilst backing the Bayern Munich shot stopper, Beckenbauer acknowledged he was taking some significant risks.

“I would not say he’s a better sweeper [than me],” the 68-year-old told a press conference.

“But he’s a better sweeper in terms of sweeping away the opponent. Yes, Manuel Neuer saved us in some situations, such as an outfield player would do. But he threw caution to the wind.

“Twice he was lucky that he met the ball at exactly the right time for the attack. If he would have come in too late, he could have been sent off.  With all due praise for his great performance

“I would prefer that he remains in goal against France. If Mats Hummels is fit again, the defence is also more stable.”

Der Kaiser, who was a World Cup winner as a player in 1974 and also led West Germany to victory in 1990 as head coach, also dismissed criticism of Joachim Low’s tactics, especially with regards to his decision to play Philipp Lahm in midfield.

“We should be glad that we have such a flexible player like Philipp Lahm,” he continued.

“There is no one like him out there. He fully convinced me against Algeria in the midfield. One thing is clear though; without Lahm at the back there is more pressure on the right wing.

“Jogi Low should not be talking to others outside the camp. I have never read a DFB team manager during a World Cup listening to a newspaper or taking tips from outside. ”

Germany now face France in the quarter-finals in Rio on Friday and Beckenbauer is adamant that they will not underestimate their opponents as they may have done with Algeria and the United States.

“France are our strongest World Cup opponents [so far],” the German added.

“Coach Didier Deschamps has turned a fractious bunch into a confident force. Even though it sounds paradoxical, against the French we will play more easily.

“Subconsciously, we have underestimated the United States and Algeria. That will not happen against the French.”

Ferguson, Capello, Mourinho – Hitzfeld should be considered among coaching's modern greats

COMMENT: The coach deserves to be remembered along with the very best that Europe has produced after a remarkable career


By Robin Bairner in Brazil

When Angel Di Maria latched onto Lionel Messi’s pass after nearly two hours of intense action to ensure Argentina’s progression to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, it was the action the brought the curtain down not only on Switzerland’s campaign, but also the career of storied coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

His has been a career that ranks in the very top echelons of European bosses. Alongside two Champions League crowns sit seven Bundesliga titles and two Swiss Super Leagues, while his achievement of lifting unfashionable Switzerland into the top 10 of the Fifa Ranking is also a notable accomplishment, even if it is overshadowed by his array of titles.

“I’m proud of my career,” he reflected after the loss on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve had some marvellous teams. It’s been a great honour and I have a heart full of emotion.”

A coaching career that came to an end in Sao Paolo’s World Cup grandeur started in far less salubrious surroundings of Zug, before spells at Aarau and Grasshopper earned him his first shot in the Bundesliga.

As in his playing days, the 65-year-old began in Switzerland before moving back to his home country. Where he had been a player with Stuttgart, he was to become a coach with Dortmund, and it was with BVB he ended a near 15-year drought of German European champions by beating the mighty Juventus in 1997. For this achievement, he was named World Coach of the Year.

Greater heights would be scaled with Bayern, where he enjoyed two spells totalling over seven years. Most memorably, he would become only the second coach in the 50-year history of the European Cup to win it with two different clubs, following in the footsteps of the legendary Ernst Happel by beating Valencia on penalties in 2001.

The two European crowns lifted by Hitzfeld’s sides were the only ones the German top flight would muster in two decades until Bayern Munich regained the title in 2013.

Hitzfeld was educated in the same coaching school as many of the modern greats, amongst them Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and Jupp Heynckes, though his achievements have been cast unjustly into the shadows.

Like Ferguson, Capello and Heynckes, Hitzfeld, named Bayern’s greatest ever coach in 2005, should be considered a European giant.

Indeed, had he replaced the Scot at Manchester United in 2002, as he turned down the opportunity to do before Ferguson’s retirement U-turn, his story may now be cast in a more favourable light, as the Bundesliga was not the draw in Hitzfeld’s hayday as it is now.

The coach, who was born in south Germany close to the Swiss border, has never been one for fashion, though. When he led Dortmund to their greatest moment, they were by no means considered one of Europe’s elite sides, yet they overcame opponents studded with diamonds such as Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps.

Indeed, it was only during his time with Bayern can he really claim to have spent significant time with a genuinely great outfit.

It was fitting, therefore, that his time has come to a close with Switzerland, a country with little meaningful footballing pedigree, yet one that is now well placed to reap the benefits of Hitzfeld’s wisdom in the years to come and the cosmopolitan Vladimir Petkovic.

The legacy the German has left is ultimately one of unity, having drawn a group of players from varying backgrounds together to become one of the best 16 teams in the world, running a potent Argentina team very close in the meantime.

The coach described the occasion as “the highlight of his career” to the media, and had it not been for the dancing feet of Messi and Di Maria’s crisp late finish, he may have enjoyed an even greater stage from which to bow out on, though only the final would have provided one fitting for a great of the modern game.

Kahn defends Robben theatrics: A world-class player takes advantage of these chances

The ex-Germany star feels the Dutchman proved his attacking experience when he went down under a challenge from Rafael Marquez to earn the winning penalty against Mexico


Former Germany international Oliver Kahn has defended Arjen Robben in the wake of his alleged dive in Netherlands’ 2-1 World Cup round-of-16 win over Mexico.

The Bayern Munich winger went to the ground after Rafael Marquez’s reckless challenge in his own area in the dying minutes of the match to win his side the penalty that eventually saw them progress to the quarter-finals.

Although there was contact between Marquez and Robben, the Dutchman has been criticised for making the most of the challenge and exaggerating his fall, but Kahn feels the winger did what every experienced attacker would have done.

“A world-class attacker like Robben takes advantage of a situation like that,” Kahn told ZDF.

“If you are offered a chance like that, you can only be grateful and take it.

“An experienced attacker will not pass up on an opportunity like this. They are always looking for situations like this.”

Robben admitted after the game that he did dive at one moment in the first half – though he insisted the decisive penalty decision was just – and Kahn has stressed the Dutchman would have been better to be less honest in the aftermath of the match.

“It’s not the smartest thing to do to say something like that after the game. It’s best to keep quiet.”

Netherlands meet Costa Rica in the quarter-finals on July 5.

Robben will not face Fifa rap following diving admission

Fifa has confirmed that no retrospective action will be taken against the Netherlands international after he revealed he exaggerated contact against Mexico


Netherlands forward Arjen Robben will not face retrospective action for admitting he dived against Mexico, Fifa has announced.

Bayern Munich star Robben won the decisive penalty, converted by substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, as the Dutch completed a dramatic last-gasp comeback to earn a 2-1 win in the World Cup round of 16 over Mexico on Sunday.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera claimed the player dived on three occasions, but Fifa spokeswoman Delia Fischer confirmed Robben was in the clear as he would only have received a yellow card had Pedro Proenca opted to punish him for diving.

“Simulation is not something we want to see on the field of play but the referees are trained to identify these simulations and punish them by showing yellow cards,” Fischer said.

“The disciplinary committee will look into serious infringements. We appeal to the spirit of fair play which is the over-arching message we have.”

Robben is set to give a media briefing of his own on Tuesday following the furore caused by his comments and, in a statement on their official website, the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) criticised media interpretations of the winger’s interview.

“KNVB is unpleasantly surprised by publications in the media about the Dutch penalty in the match versus Mexico,” the statement read.

“Media have interpreted statements from Robben in a Dutch post-match interview completely wrong.

“In a studio interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS, the forward stated that the decision of the referee to give a penalty in the second half of the game was perfectly right.

“However, in the same interview Robben referred to two situations earlier in the match (first half), when he was brought down. The striker stated that in one of those situations he should have been granted a penalty, but that in the other case he was falling too easily.”

Netherlands’ next World Cup match is a quarter-final against surprise package Costa Rica on Saturday.