Yeovil player stands by Kewell 'dive' claim

Hugo Rodrigues, the Yeovil Town defender, yesterday stood by his claim that Harry Kewell had admitted diving to win Liverpool a penalty in Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie.

The Portuguese centre-back said that the incident, which was shown live on BBC1, was the fifth time in the game that Liverpool players had tried to con referee Neale Barry. Despite vehement denials from Kewell - who claimed Rodrigues "misunderstood" what he said - the defender stated: "I spoke to him when it happened and said I had not touched him and he replied, 'Yeah, I know you didn't, but this is football, man. I had to dive'. I saw today that he said he didn't dive. That's his opinion."

Kewell angrily denied this, saying: "I would not dive. It's not fair on the opposition. Some strikers are known for doing that but I would never consider trying to con the referee... I know he touched me. It was the referee's decision to award the penalty and he was well placed to do so.

"I don't know why he's making such a big fuss about it now," Kewell added. "He came up to me during the game and asked me why I dived. I said to him 'Did you touch me?' And he said 'Yes'."

However, Rodrigues refused to back down. "I was told that all three commentators on the television said it wasn't a penalty," he said. "But they [Liverpool] also tried it four times in the first-half and the referee showed a yellow card to [El Hadji] Diouf.

"After the game everyone was speaking about what happened. In my opinion it was not a penalty - just watch the replay on television."

In the 76th-minute incident, from which Danny Murphy scored, Kewell certainly appeared to throw himself to the ground - but only after Rodrigues stuck out a leg. Yet, on closer examination, there didn't appear to be any contact.

Rodrigues said he had also spoken to Kewell after Liverpool's 2-0 win over the Third Division side. "I said it was a pleasure to play against him and congratulations to the winner. To be fair they are a great team but what they did in the first-half especially was not what I expected from a Premiership team. It's normal that sort of thing [diving] happening in Portugal, but I didn't think it happened over here. They just dived too much."

It is not the first time that Liverpool players have been accused of diving, with Diouf and the teenage striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle facing previous criticism. The charge has also been levelled at Michael Owen in the past, while Emile Heskey has, throughout his career, been attacked for the ease with which he falls over. But Liverpool are hardly alone; Arsenal and Manchester United players have also received criticism.

Kewell's agent, Bernie Mandic, was adamant that the 25 year-old Australian had not admitted duping the referee. "I would be shocked and amazed if Harry said that," Mandic said. "I think with these sort of things you should look at a player's previous history, and that pretty much tells you what he is about. I think this fellow Rodrigues is trying to make the best he can out of the situation."

Phil Thompson, Liverpool's assistant manager, claimed: "Harry said their lad asked him 'What did you do that for?' Harry said to him 'If you touch me, you know what is going to happen.' If their lad is taking that to mean Harry is going to dive, that is up to him, but it just meant that if you touch a striker in the box, it is likely to be a penalty. Their lad has misunderstood, he has got it wrong."

Rodrigues - the tallest player in Britain at 6ft 8in - joined Yeovil last summer and, ironically, in an interview ahead of the Liverpool game, said that the most enjoyable thing about English football was the unwillingness of players to dive and cheat.

The incident sparked further debate with John Baker, the head of refereeing at the Football Association, saying: "Everybody feels a bit sick when you do get an attempt to deceive the referee. If you [the referee] have been cheated you feel the same thing. No one likes to think they've been conned." Baker confirmed that there is no chance of Rodrigues making a case to an FA video panel.

THE FALL GUYS: THE TOP FIVE PENALTY WINNERS

FRANCIS LEE

Or, as he became known, "Lee Won Pen". During the 1971-72 season Lee scored 15 penalties for Manchester City, the overwhelming majority of which he had won himself. He appeared to perfect the art of tripping over his own feet as he ran into the penalty area.

JURGEN KLINSMANN

His most infamous moment came in the 1990 World Cup Final. Klinsmann soared through the air as the Argentinian Pedro Monzan approached. He landed and executed three rolls, just for good measure. The defender became the first player to receive a red card in the final. Klinsmann, when he later played for Tottenham Hotspur, incorporated a dive into his goal celebrations - but left out the roll.

ROBBIE SAVAGE

Provoked a mini-riot by flinging himself to the ground in the 90th minute of a match against Derby County in 2001. After winning the spot-kick he exploded in a fist-pumping celebration which led to him being chased to the corner flag by Derby players. He denied the allegation of cheating.

RUUD VAN NISTELROOY

Constantly described as a diver. Twice against Arsenal earlier this season his honesty was questioned - first over an incident which led to the sending-off of Patrick Vieira who kicked air rather than the Manchester United striker, and then for winning a penalty which he missed sparking the crazy reaction of Arsenal players. Arsène Wenger said: "I think Van Nistelrooy does not help. He's a great player but I think his attitude is always looking for a reaction or diving."

ROBERT PIRES

Labelled "the best French diver since Jacques Cousteau" after the penalty he won against Portsmouth earlier this season. Pires flicked his right foot at the stationary leg of Dejan Stefanovic, thus creating the illusion of a foul. Stefanovic claimed when he asked Pires if it was a penalty, the reply was "that's football".

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