RIO DE JANEIRO — Dutch striker Arjen Robben was two things on Monday — honest (or so he claimed to be) and unapologetic.
Robben admitted he took a dive during the first half of Sunday’s controversial 2-1 win against Mexico, but maintained that he did not dive during the decisive call that gave the Dutch a game-winning penalty kick in the waning moments of the contest.
FIFA announced Monday that Robben would face no sanctions for his admitted diving, which FIFA head of media Delia Fischer said was something that should have been identified and handled by the referee during the match.
Robben even laughed at the idea of a possible FIFA sanction when he was asked about it during a news conference Monday. It was the kind of cavalier and unapologetic attitude that he displayed throughout his 30 minutes with the media as he maneuvered his way through questions about that fateful play.
At one point, Robben was asked how he felt about the word “cheat” and Robben gave about as judicious an answer as he could.
“I think everyone can give their opinion,” Robben said smiling. “That’s the nice thing about football, there are so many fans around the world and there are so many people watching the World Cup that everyone is speaking their opinion. But I think you have to be realistic.”
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Initially, when Robben admitted following the game that he had dove, many interpreted that to mean that he had fallen down easily during the play that led to the penalty kick. The Dutch FA clarified Robben’s comments and said he was referring to a play earlier in the match. Robben spent part of Monday's media session making the same distinction.
“There was one foul in the first half where I went to the ground because I thought he was going to trip me,” Robben recounted. “But at the last moment I think he pulled his leg away and I went to the ground anyway. It was a stupid action for me, but what I said before is that it didn’t have any influence on the game.
“It’s a shame because after the game I was very honest and sometimes you’re punished for honesty.”
But Rafa Marquez, the Mexican player that committed the fateful foul, said after the game that Robben told him he took a dive.
“I spoke with him after the match and he told me that it was not a penalty,” Marquez said. “He said that the first foul was a penalty and that one was not called.”
Robben was asked Monday what he had said to Marquez after the play and he said he couldn’t remember.
But all of the questions and all of the scrutiny were moot because regardless of what happened, the Dutch still advanced to the quarterfinals.
And Robben is especially unapologetic for that.