I'm going to come right out and say this so we're all very clear on one thing. Rafael Marquez did indeed foul Arjen Robben in the box in stoppage time of the Round of 16 match between the Netherlands and Mexico. I am not looking at any other call from the game, so those who want to argue that Mexico deserved a penalty in the first half, that's a separate play that I'm not going to be looking at.
Here's the video from ESPN:
Marquez sticks out his leg across not one, but both of Robben's legs and clips him. As a referee, I can't disagree with center referee Pedro Proenca from Portugal for pointing to the spot in that situation. There's not a lot of room for interpretation here, Marquez's leg clearly impedes Robben's progress with the ball and that's a foul, and since it happened in the box, it's a penalty. Regardless of Robben's theatrics, and I'll get to that in a second, that's a lazy and unnecessary foul from Marquez in that spot.
Now, Marquez gets cautioned for the foul, which I'm not against but just because it's a penalty kick doesn't mean it's a card. There's only one person who absolutely should've been booked on this play, and that's Robben.
Yes, you can be fouled (and draw a penalty if it's in the box) and get cautioned for embellishment at the same time, and that's exactly what should've happened on this play. Marquez's challenge isn't nearly hard enough to send Robben flying through the air Superman style. Marquez commits a fairly obvious foul and there's no reason for Robben to go over the top with his antics after he was fouled.
Also, I don't like to use the word "diving," I prefer simulation, the blatant act of deceiving the referee into thinking you've been fouled, and embellishment, the act of selling a foul that's already been committed. Both of these things happen too much in soccer and what I rarely see referees do is caution both players. The defender who committed the foul, and the attacker who sold it. In this case, I'm not against Marquez going into the book, but Robben should have gone too.
No matter what, the Netherlands is going to be taking a penalty kick deep into stoppage time. Marquez's foul doesn't magically not happen because Robben flies through the air, but that doesn't excuse Robben's theatrics either. This is something that needs to happen more often is soccer around the globe to combat simulation and embellishment. Punishing both players for their own separate infractions, the foul and the embellishment, could help eliminate players over exaggerating contact and going to the ground. Most referees can see fouls, because they're usually obvious, and players shouldn't have to sell the call.
For what it's worth, I have little sympathy for Marquez who has a history of doing stupid things in international soccer, but I am gutted for the rest of Mexico. Guillermo Ochoa was stellar in goal through out the tournament and players like Giovanni Dos Santos and Miguel Layun starred on the world's biggest stage. Mexico arguably out played Netherlands for eighty minutes and were absolutely deserving of a spot in the quarterfinals.
Sadly, the soccer gods are cruel at times, and the most deserving team doesn't always win. But as far as controversy goes, the question we shouldn't be asking is "Did Rafa Marquez foul Arjen Robben?" Because the answer is quite clearly, yes.
The question we should be asking is "Why didn't Robben get a yellow card?"
I wish I had a better answer than, I don't know.