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Robben apologises for dive, but says penalty was legitimate

Published 29/06/2014 | 21:45

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands reacts after being tackled by Mexico's Miguel Layun during their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza
Arjen Robben of the Netherlands reacts after being tackled by Mexico's Miguel Layun during their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza

Arjen Robben has apologised for diving during Holland's 2-1 win over Mexico in the World Cup round of 16.

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The Dutch winger had two penalty appeals turned down before finally winning a penalty in stoppage-time when he went down under a challenge from Mexico captain Rafael Marquez.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted the spotkick to complete a remarkable fightback, minutes after Wesley Sneijder had equalised for Holland.

"I must apologise," Robben was quoted as telling Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. "The one [at the end] was a penalty, but the other one was a dive in the first half. I shouldn't be doing that."

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera was furious with Arjen Robben, the referee and Fifa after Holland's last-gasp win eliminated his side.

Herrera claimed Robben committed three dives, including for the decisive penalty, and criticised Fifa for appointing a referee from the same continent - Portugal's Pedro Proenca - as Holland.

"Out of the four matches here in all of them the refereeing was disastrous," Herrera said.

"Robben did three dives and he should have been cautioned. You should caution a guy who is trying to cheat, and then if Robben did it again he would be sent off.

"And why did Fifa choose a referee from the same confederation as Holland instead of one from South America, Asia or Africa?

"The doubtful decisions were always against us. We have to say it in capital letters, in three matches we had horrible refereeing. The man with the whistle knocked us.

"I want the referee committee to take a look and that the referee goes home just like us."

Herrera also blasted organisers for making the teams play in the heat and humidity of a 1pm kick-off in Fortaleza.

"What goes against football is to have to play in these conditions," he said. "The players were suffocated by the sun heat and the humidity."

Holland boss Louis van Gaal admitted he used Fifa's new official cooling breaks - allowed during certain temperatures or humidity levels - to instruct his players on a change of tactics.

He said: "I moved to a 'plan B' and yes I did that in the cooling break but that's a clever way of benefiting from these breaks."

Van Gaal, who will become Manchester United manager after the tournament, paid tribute to substitute Huntelaar's coolness under pressure.

He added: "Everyone knows Klaas Jan Huntelaar takes penalties at Schalke and there had been a foul against Robben, and he asked Huntelaar if he wanted to take it.

"He doesn't need any encouragement and he's very cool and did an excellent job."

Van Gaal confirmed that Nigel de Jong was substituted early on in the match with a groin injury and his tournament may be over.

The substitution of Robin van Persie 15 minutes from the end was for tactical reasons, however, and he will be available for the quarter-finals.

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