Penalty or Not: Proenca and Netherlands v. Mexico

I watch Arjen Robben play the way I watch Luis Suarez, always half-cringing. They’re both so difficult to watch the way they throw themselves about, straining to get a foul or a penalty instead of – you know – playing the game. They’re both much too talented to have to act that way. I know it’s their game and it works for them, but it’s painful to watch.

And it worked for Robben today.

Netherlands was behind Mexico, 1-0, until Wesley Sneijder tied it with a beautiful strike. Four minutes into the six minutes of added time (partly because of three minutes added for the cooling break), Robben did his thing.

Clearly, Rafa Marquez is late here and there is contact. Clearly, Robben cons Marquez into the penalty by leaving his leg trailing and he then makes a meal of it.

Anyone who’s been whinging about the Diego Costa contact on De Vrij in the Spain v. Netherlands had better be complaining about this, too; this would be the exact same thing, except probably more blatant.

So, my feeling is it probably was the right call, but I have a very sour taste in my mouth. I wish it weren’t so.

(To be fair, I think he should have gotten a penalty earlier in the game, so it probably evens out, but it doesn’t make this feel any better.)

What do you think?

Featured photo: Business Insider


  • It’s an obvious penalty. The Mexican player made a mistake because he did not need to stick out his foot like that since there were plenty of other Mexican players in the area, but the moment he did, he basically gave Robben a freebie.


  • It was a penalty, but the way Robben exaggerated it rubs me the wrong way. Márquez caught his foot, he didn’t shoot him. (And it hurts Robben too – if he wasn’t always over-acting everything, he probably would’ve gotten the 1st half penalty call).


  • Probably it is ok penalty….but about “sour taste in mouth” just looking in the Roben right leg movement after contact….for my opinion it was not natural….


  • For me it’s a clear penalty.

    People sometimes doesn’t understand football. The action is done here first from the defender, not the opponent. It’s a careless attempt to trip.


  • Sorry. I don’t see a punishable contact even after the 10th replay. Not from the side replay, not from the front, not in real time. I honestly think that Robben managed to fool not only Proenca.


  • There was a very fitting commentary during this game…”Robben is always very light-footed but sadly also very light falling.”
    I guess the penalty was fair in the end, and it doesn’t really matter if you see it as a “Konzessionsentscheidung” (a decision to make up for a wrong call), or a culmination of both incidents, or a real foul with an overdramatic reaction.
    Still, I am glad that I was right about the Netherlands being in trouble as soon as they encounter a proper competitor. This kind of falling-football is just no fun at all.


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  • I agree with the perspective given here: It’s a penalty, but the caution on Marquez probably isn’t necessary. A caution for “unsporting conduct” on Robben for his theatrical over-sell is probably deserved.


    • I agree the yellow card for Marquez was too much, but I don’t agree about the caution to Robben. It really doesn’t fit “unsporting conduct”, particularly because there was a foul. You could say it was “attempting to deceive the referee” to draw the foul, but since there was contact and a foul, it’s not simulation according to the law.

      I don’t like the way Robben acts, but in this case, Proenca couldn’t both call the foul AND caution Robben…


  • Watching the game on television, even after all replays, I was sure this one wasn’t a penalty. Though looking at the footage you posted here I have to change my opinion. Marquez stepped on the foot of Robben and as it was Robbens standing leg it was hard to proceed his movement following the ball.

    Since you bring up the Costa – de Vrij contact, this was clearly a complete different situation. With Robben the foul was standing on the foot, where with Costa the foul(?) was sliding the leg underneath a foot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you on Costa, but I have people here who have written post after post insisting that De Vrij’s sliding his leg under Costa was not only not deserving of a penalty, but that Costa was at fault for stepping on De Vrij’s sliding leg and should have been red carded for it. Tiresome.


  • Guys, the big problem with Robben’s theatrics is that they shift attention to whether Marquez’s (reckless) challenge was a foul or not.

    But in focusing on that, we forget to compare this last-minute, game-changing call from Proenca with the calls he had made previously: was Proenca’s PK call consistent with the standard he had set for fouls? That’s the question we should be asking. And I would argue that answer is “no.” Proenca made a bad call.

    On another note, there’s been too much diving and not enough cautioning for dives.


    • The referees are severely hampered by the “two and suspended” rule. It’s forcing them to let a lot of things go. If they’d called everything, you’d seen a lot more guys in the stands instead of on the pitch.


      • I see where you’re coming from, Jenna, and I agree with you. In general, the lack of yellow cards in this WC is pretty remarkable. Look back at the red card moment in the Italy-Uruguay game. The Italians were manhandling the referee. Buffon even sprinted across the pitch not to discuss (as Captain it’s his right) but to put his hands on the ref.

        As for diving, if FIFA is serious in wanting to stamp it out, then they’re certainly not going the right way about it. If suspending players is the price for stamping out diving, or at least cutting down on its prevalence on the game, I’d be more than happy.


        • Or give referees more leeway to prove they’re serious by showing cards early. A yellow card for diving in the first 15 minutes will put the brakes on.

          Right now, because of the rule and the fact that referees were advised to be lenient because of it (Catch 22), you typically don’t see cards until into the second half.

          The more experienced guys like Kuipers and Webb can still control the game; the less experienced guys are getting wiped out.


          • Completely agree. So far Webb’s performance is one of the most impressive I’ve seen. He laid down his authority very well, didn’t let himself get manhandled, and he made good, consistent calls.

            To get back to Robben, I think FIFA needs to step up and consider disciplining him in light of his admission. Diving is a serious detriment to the spirit and the quality of the game.


  • not a penalty, the first half should have been a penalty but not this one. i wonder how Robben feels about how his team took the win unfair.


    • He doesn’t care, I guarantee you. 🙂 If he cared, he wouldn’t cheat so much…


      • Hi there, Jim from NL here.

        In the Dutch interview after the match, he did say that he dived once in the first half. However, he also said that from his point of view, the awarded PK was a foul by the defender. I don’t think this win is therefore unfair as the Mexican defender misses the ball and appears to make contact.


        • I do believe this was a foul. But I still don’t like the way Robben plays. If he spent half as much time driving toward goal as he does trying to trick his way into penalties, he’d probably score more.


  • Was there contact? Clearly. Did that contact make Robben fall down? Please. He could have continued his run if he’d had any intention of doing so. Marquez later said he stepped on the ground and Robben initiated the contact. That’s not supported by the video evidence, but the foot clash looks to me to have been glancing, and served only as Robben’s cue to launch into his well-practiced swan dive. I concur that the referee could have awarded Robben a valid penalty in the first half, but that only helps if you’re a Dutch fan trying to shrug off the fact that they were gifted the stoppage time penalty as a result of playacting. For me the assertion that “it all balances out” is not convincing. Where is the balance for the UNDENIABLE fact that Mexico should have been awarded a penalty for Holland’s unquestionable intentional handling of the ball in the box shortly after they went up 1-0 and that Holland should have been playing the remainder of the game with ten players for the DOGSO?


    • As for DOGSO, I don’t even think we’ve seen one of those, and I think it’s because of the accumulation of cards rule. We aren’t even seeing yellow for these penalties most of the time. The referees are being ultra cautious about giving “extra punishments” along with the penalty kicks, which I don’t necessarily think is a good thing.


  • It’s amazing how some people are still arguing this was not a penalty. Check the pictures on this article:

    It clearly shows Marquez leg across BOTH of Robben’s legs, and with contact on his foot. Can’t get more clear foul than this.

    If the Mexican defender had not stuck his leg out, then there would have been no foul. Bad defending is bad.


  • I think that if Robben would not always go down so easily he would probably be getting more penalties then he is getting now.

    He is dangerous enough and hard to stop. As a result he gets fouled often enough in the box to regularly get a penalty as this matched showed he should have gotten one earlier.

    I think that if it wasn’t for his avoidance jump earlier he might not have gotten the penalty, he showed he was not always going for the dive and sometimes does just want to score.

    Anyway this was a penalty but with some added show, when he was between between the two Mexicans it was a penalty and the other moments was just diving.

    I don’t like his diving shows, I prefer the way van Persie took a dive in the NL-Spain match. he does always show how hard he is to stop for a defender.


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