World Cup 3: Semi Finals Beckon

Regardless of whether Holland can take their next two steps towards World Cup glory, Arjen Robben’s place as a key part of the tournament narrative is secured. No player triggers discussion – and fury – over the fine line between clever professionalism and blatant cheating more than this Bayern Munich winger. Ewan Murray, Guardian sports writer

The best teams through

By Dave Daniel

Brazil Soccer WCup Brazil ColombiaWe now know the semi finalists for the World Cup.

~ The Germans march on

~ the Brazilians stumble on

~ Messi dances on and

~ the Dutch get better and better.

The best teams have made it through, probably no doubt about that.

Robben: a star and a cheat

Robben's diveSomething that has been bothering me since last weekend is the antics of Arjen Robben, the hugely gifted Dutch midfielder who frustrates so many football lovers.

In the second minute of extra time against Mexico, he knew exactly what to do. He dribbled into the busy penalty area, waiting for the contact with the defender before launching himself in the air in the most dramatic fashion. Penalty won, job done, he’s a hero. But he is of course a cheat.

My rugby watching friends find this simulation hard to stomach and who can blame them. The spoils of victory are such that some players will do anything to win. We crave success and the plaudits, accolades and possessions that follow with scant regards to the methods used.

Is it the death of sportsmanship ? Not entirely but when Arjen Robben launches himself through the air after a slight touch, serious wounds are inflicted.

Chris Cutmore of the Daily Mail wrote:

Robben on the diving boardNo matter how many glorious goals he scores, no matter how much his trophy cabinet creaks at the seams, Robben will forever be associated in most football fan’s eyes with simulated death rather than glory.

Watching Robben is like topping off a brilliant night on the tiles with a greasy kebab. Your memory of most of the evening will be hazy but they last bitter taste in the mouth will linger long into the next day.

Improving the beautiful game

What can be done? Surely retrospective action can be taken. It happens now for the use of elbows and off the ball violence, so why not for diving. It is time that FIFA took a long hard look at it.

The beautiful game is not always beautiful; see you next time.