How Robben made all of Mexico furious: ‘I stick with it, it was not a penalty’

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It was June 29, 2014, Fortaleza, Brazil. The Orange was the light favorite in the eighth final of the World Cup against Mexico. But Mexico scored 1-0. It remained that way until the 88th minute. Then Wesley Sneijder made it 1-1.

And Mexico’s grief got even worse well into injury time when Arjen Robben went down quite theatrically in the penalty area. Penalty, the referee said. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar used the present and Orange was in the quarterfinals. All of Mexico was crying and the anger focused on one man: Arjen Robben.

José Luis Mercado broke down completely after this moment. “I was very, very angry. My family had to calm me down,” he told RTL News. He did not give up. Since the defeat, the Mexican persistently tweeted that the Orange should not have received a penalty.

Mercado tweeted ‘no era penal’, or ‘it wasn’t a penalty’ almost daily, referring to Robben’s alleged schwalbe that cost Mexico the spot in the quarterfinals. His twitter action made it to media around the world, from the BBC to CNN.

Years later, Robben himself reacted briefly but firmly about that moment in de Volkskrant: “It was a penalty.” We will never know whether the Dutch still thinks that way. “Arjen is not available for questions about this”, is the answer we receive through his spokesperson.

Reminder sour

Luis Mercado is now also done with it. He continued his continuous tweet with the hashtag #noerapenal for four years and 269 days. “I wanted to do it up to and including the World Cup in Russia, so that we could beat the Netherlands there, but the Netherlands did not qualify.”

Now he is no longer angry, he assures. “No, not, but the memory of that tournament is sour. The feeling remains that there was more to it. The end with such a penalty was sour. And I stick with it: it was not a penalty.”

Andere penalty

Mercado then turned his sights on another controversial penalty, in the match between the Mexico and Brazil Under 17 teams in November 2019. Mexico lost the final to Brazil.

In this match the Mexicans also received an unjust penalty kick, according to Mercado. The counter with the number of tweets with ‘no era penal’ addressed to FIFA and Brazilian Football Association now stands at 321.

New reason?

Tonight’s game against Mexico may give rise to a new Twitter action by José Luis Mercado, although not as much is at stake as in 2014, because this time it is a friendly game.

“I don’t really see it as revenge when we win,” he says. “Only when we beat the Orange at a major tournament, we took revenge. We will write history at the World Cup in Qatar.”

Mercado will definitely watch the match, where Frank de Boer sits on the bench as national coach for the first time. What it will be? “I think 2-2, and I’m sure Robben won’t hit a penalty,” he laughs.





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