Reda Maher

Brazil 360: Mexico fans divided on ‘dive’ but united in pride

Reda Maher

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After Mexico’s heart-breaking exit to the Netherlands in the last 16 of the World Cup on Sunday, social media was awash with anger aimed at Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who won his side an injury-time penalty that would take them into the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win.

But social media is not the real world, so I spoke to Mexico fans who – unable to get tickets for the match in Fortaleza – instead watched it at the Fan Fest or in local bars.

And they seemed far more balanced in their view of the exit.

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“It was very disappointing because we were winning for the whole game until right at the end,” Rafael, from Mexico City, said after watching it in the FIFA Fan Fest.

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“I only saw it once but it looked a legal penalty to me. I’ll have to watch it again on the replay. It did seem he stood on his foot, but maybe it was a dive.

“Yes, (Robben’s reaction) was not a good thing to do in a game like this, but neither was the challenge so late in such a big match.

“It was a very difficult situation with so many people in such a small space in the box.”

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Indeed, replays suggested that Rafael Marquez had indeed tripped Robben, who then exaggerated the contact.

It could also be argued that Robben should have won a penalty earlier in the match, while he was the victim of some bad challenges, including a wild hack from Hector Moreno that resulted in the Mexico defender breaking his own tibia.

Robben did, however, admit he had been responsible for other dives, apologising for earlier tumbles but insisting he had not simulated for the decisive spot-kick, which was converted by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

[ROBBEN SORRY FOR DIVES, BUT SAYS IT WAS A PENALTY]

Marquez, however, claimed that Robben had confessed to simulation for the penalty, while coach Miguel Herrera blamed the referee for his side's exit.

The controversy raises the question about simulation with contact – if a player is fouled, but over-elaborates, can he or she win the free-kick but also be booked? Something for football’s authorities to mull over, although it’s unlikely that will happen.

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Araceli, from Guadalajara, said she felt it wasn’t a penalty but that Mexico were just unlucky.

“We were well prepared and fought well and played an excellent match. We deserved to get through but these things happen.

“Sometimes you win sometimes you lose. There’s nobody to blame, that’s what happens in football. Sometimes you’re just unlucky.”

[DES KANE: ROBBEN COULD DIVE HIS WAY TO GLORY]

Ramon, also from Guadalajara expressed pride in Mexico’s World Cup run.

“It was never a penalty. Not a chance. We did so well and we were robbed in the end.

“I am very happy with our performances, 100%. We were unfortunate because of this so-called penalty.

“But hey, Robben is very good, no question about it.”

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Victor, left, and Ramon believe Mexico are on the right track

His friend Victor interjected that Mexico were the better team but the Dutch got lucky in the final seconds.

“They were lucky, and we were sad but that’s football. No, it was not a penalty, but previously he could have had one so that’s football.

“We’re proud of Mexico and we are on the right track. It doesn’t make us any less sad though.”

Eurosport’s Reda Maher is on location in Brazil for the duration of the 2014 World Cup - follow him on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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