Jun 29, 2014

Arjen Robben, Rafa Marquez and the politics of makeup calls

Let's get one thing out of the way first: Arjen Robben blatantly took a dive in the 92nd minute of today's round of 16 matchup between Mexico and the Netherlands. The dive was rewarded with a penalty, which Klaus Jan Huntelaar coverted, and Mexico lost the game as a result.

Robben is a cheater who was rewarded for his deceit. Rafa Marquez was punished for a crime he did not commit. On the surface, this is a gross injustice. But let's look at the bigger picture:

1. At the end of the first half, a blatant penalty to Holland was not rewarded. This penalty can be seen as a makeup call.
2. Rafa Marquez is a notorious hothead and dirty player who as a result of his past conduct deserves to be viewed with close scrutiny by referees. If he is the victim of a bad call he only has himself to blame at this stage of his career.
3. The game was already tied and headed for extra time, thanks to a super strike by Wesley Sneijder that left no chance even for Mexico's superb goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Mexico's record in extra time is poor. Their record in penalty shootouts is downright miserable.
4. Mexico really shouldn't be at this World Cup to begin with. They finished fourth in the six-team Hexagonal playoff and that only by virtue of a last minute goal by Graham Zusi to tie Panama in the U.S.'s last match, which dropped Panama to fourth and allowed El Tri to qualify via a play-in against New Zealand.

So yeah, Mexico deserve our sympathy. But only to a point.


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  2. 5. Adding to 4, Chaco Gimenez playing for Mexico against Panama when he should be ruled out as an ineligible player (played for Argentina in Youth WC qualifiers in 2001). A fact that FIFA choose to ignore, instead of applying the rule regarding ineligible players, a forfeit results against Mexico, with Panama heading to the play-in with NZ.