Brad Friedel has supported Arjen Robben over claims the Dutch winger dived to earn the late penalty that sank Mexico in the last 16 – but said he didn’t blame strikers for trying to “help their team” by going to ground.
Holland won 2-1 in Fortaleza on Sunday to set up a quarter-final against Costa Rica. Robben won a stoppage time spot-kick after a challenge from Rafael Marquez, with substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converting.
The Bayern Munich star was branded a ‘cheat’ by Mexico coach Miguel Herrera and caused a storm when he admitted after the game that he had dived earlier in the match in an attempt to win a free-kick.
But former USA international and Sony Team Ambassador Friedel, asked if he thought Robben dived, said: “I’ll answer this honestly. I think he was probably fouled on the penalty, but was very theatrical in how he went down, which doesn’t help him in the eyes of referees. I do think, and he has admitted that he does go to ground easy, and he’s done that before when I played against him.
“However, it’s part of the game that you have to deal with and I don’t blame strikers for trying to take advantage if it helps their team. Do I get frustrated, yes. But I don’t blame players for trying to help their team. I know it’s a bit of a hypocritical answer, but I’ve yet to be disappointed in a game when one of my team-mates won a penalty, rightly or wrongly.”
Robben went on the defensive on Monday and said: “I always prefer to be honest and I said there was one foul in the first half where I went to the ground when the opponent took his leg away at the last moment. That was silly from me but it didn’t influence the game. It had nothing to do with the game and the penalty was a clear penalty.”