Following another decisive display of theatrics in the Netherlands 2-1 comeback victory over Mexico in the Round of 16, Arjen Robben has once again become a lightning rod.
Robben whose diving and petulance was one of the leading topics of the 2010 World Cup and also of multiple UEFA Champions League campaigns is now being targeted by Costa Rica’s Head Coach Jorge Luis Pinto:
“I would like to ask Fifa and the referees to watch Robben. We’re really worried about his diving. He has admitted doing it.
Pinto was pressed by reporters about whether Robben should be sent off for diving.
“That may be the most logical solution. Maybe he would have to leave the field because he gets two yellow cards for diving.”
Robben admitted diving in the Mexico match saying “I have to apologize. In the first half I took a dive. The one at the end was a penalty.”
The player has been characterized by many a “chronic diver” going back to his days with PSV a decade ago. While at Chelsea from 2004 to 2007 he developed an ever greater reputation for flopping and that image of Robben has persisted. Despite winning a UEFA Champions League with Bayern and reaching the World Cup final with the Netherlands in 2010, the Dutch winger has yet to shake the label of being a “chronic diver.”
The Dutch face Costa Rica who have been one of the great stories of this World Cup and despite being heavy favorites, the Dutch are not taking the Ticos lightly. Netherlands Manager Louis Van Gaal said:
“I am positive there will be no underestimating Costa Rica by my players,”
“To get as far as they can in this tournament is what they want to achieve. They believe that this is the highest podium in world football and they are seeking to stand on it. They won’t be underestimating any opponent.”
Robben’s behavior which has the subject of much controversy in the wake of the Mexico match will no doubt weight on the mind of the match official. Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan has been assigned the duties of officiating tomorrow’s quarterfinal clash between the Dutch and Costa Ricans and all eyes will be on him if and when Robben goes to ground.