By Chris Wright
Now, believe us, we take zero pleasure in defending Arjen Robben and his ilk. Nil. Zilch. The man continues to offend us almost each and every time we seem him play; swooning daintily to the ground under the slightest duress with the same frail, feeble, gossamer-light constitution as the elderly well-to-do ladies who faint at the first sight of blood in Agatha Christie stories.
Diving is a sporting cancer. We abhor it. It is the tactic of the inferior, the cowardly. Yet it prevails.
Anyway, while watching Arsenal-Bayern Munich last night, we – like many other Gooners/neutral fans, we presume – were overcome with apoplectic rage when Robben seemingly took a couple of steps for deciding to mimsy his way to the ground under a “challenge” from Santi Cazorla just inside the penalty area.
However, in the cold light of day we feel we must apologise to Robben. Yes, the fall looked utterly pathetic (almost Gilardino-esque) but, on closer inspection, it would appear the Dutchman had fairly good grounds to hit the deck.
Take a close look at these ‘ere GIFs…
While not overly apparent in the first GIF, the second clearly shows Cazorla giving Robben’s left heel a shredding with his studs after making up ground behind him – which, like it or not, is going to hurt and definitely constitutes a foul.
I’m afraid we’ve got to hold our hands up there. We were wrong. It was a foul.
As for the penalty decision…
Pathetic. It would seem that defending is being slowly phased out of the (contact) sport entirely.