Early Doors

Player dives, wins penalty, has change of heart and confesses to ref

Early Doors

We all know that a fair number of footballers give in to the temptation of diving.

Yes, some players have more of a reputation for repeat offences than others, but in the heat of competition, with scoring from open play looking difficult, almost every attacker has on at least one occasion found themselves facing a split second decision over whether or not to ‘bluff’ their way into winning a penalty or dangerous free-kick.

But how many of them are honest enough to admit that they will try their luck, if the opportunity arises?

Step forward Aaron Hunt.

The thrice-capped Germany international – whose mother is English – was part of a promising breakaway 15 minutes from time as his Werder Bremen side led 2-0 at Nuremberg and looked to kill the fixture off.

As he raced into the box, he appeared at first glance to perhaps make absolute minimal contact with defender Javier Pinola before going to ground, prompting referee Manuel Graefe to point to the spot.

Nuremberg players and their manager, Gertjan Verbeek, were furious. And rightly so – a replay showed that Hunt pretty clearly was not fouled, and went down rather than try to compose himself for an actual shot on goal.

But while this cynical scene is all too frequent in the modern game, what happened next is not.

Hunt got back up, immediately walked over to the ref and advised him that it was not a penalty.

Herr Graefe accepted his confession and allowed the home side to play the ball out from the back, having had the ball at the time of the original decision.

The Nuremberg players had a lot of respect of Hunt’s admission – Maik Frantz gave him a thumbs-up while Pinola – the man originally accused of conceding a penalty – shook hands with the striker.

Interestingly, Graefe did not book Hunt – suggesting the official accepted the Bremen man’s explanation that he was bracing himself for actual contact at face value.

Was this right? Should he have been booked if he has pretty much admitted going to ground on false pretenses? It’s hard to tell, especially since many ex-footballers now working as pundits often advise that if you feel impeded during play, you should always go to ground to avoid the worst-case scenario of not getting a free-kick when you should.

Either way, Hunt explained to Sky after the game that while he subscribes to that theory, he definitely wasn’t going to accept a penalty kick for absolutely nothing:

“I was looking for that contact and I wanted a penalty,” Hunt said. “That was pure instinct, but it was wrong.

“I had to think about it, but we don’t want to win a match like that.”

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