Kashinath Bhattacharjee: And the Oscar for diving goes to...
Brilliant footballer, dreadful diver! That's what Arjen Robben is. Either way, he wins a match for his team.
Against Spain, it was his speed with the ball that left Sergio Ramos yards behind and Iker Casillas completely helpless and down on the field, desperately crawling to catch him.
Against Mexico, he dived in the penalty box screaming, as if he had suffered a career-threatening foul. Penalty given, the Netherlands are through to the Last Eight. As simple as that!
But then, this was not the first contentious decision from a referee in this World Cup. Greece, though knocked out by Costa Rica in the second round, should never have been there.
In their last group match against Ivory Coast, the Africans were going through with the result reading 1-1. Georgios Samaras found the right time and right place inside the Ivory Coast box to dive for a penalty. He took the kick himself, scored and Ivory Coast was knocked out.
Ironically in the competition being hosted by Brazil, it all started with a striker from their side! Fred earned a crucial penalty from the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura against Croatia in the inaugural match when the game was evenly poised at 1-1. However, Fred, like Robben, did not have the courage to take the penalty after ‘earning’ it. Brazil looked to Neymar who did not disappoint and they went ahead 2-1, and eventually won 3-1.
The same had happened for Spain when Diego Costa ‘earned’ a penalty against the Netherlands in their opening game. The Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij was awestruck when the Italian referee Niccola Rizzoli awarded the penalty which Xabi Alonso converted. Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba had this habit of ‘earning’ penalties, but they could not do so during this World Cup. Costa did it, so did Fred and Samaras.
But, without doubt, the Oscar for diving should go to Robben for his efforts against Mexico!