Manchester United Target Ander Herrera Admits He Dived Against Getafe

Christopher AtkinsContributor IOctober 29, 2013

GETAFE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 28:  Ander Herrera (L) of Athletic Club argues with referee Gil Manzano during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and Athletic Club at Coliseum Alfonso Perez stadium on October 28, 2013 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera has admitted diving to win a penalty against Getafe on Monday night, in a game his side ultimately won 1-0.

Per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan, Herrera accepted his error when talking to El Primer Toque and insisted he was "happy" that the referee had not given the decision in his favour.

Herrera said of his misdemeanour:

I was wrong. We always complain about the referees, and I did not help them. I hope I am the first of some others [players who admit mistakes].

I am happy that he did not whistle for the penalty, as I would have left as a liar and I do not want to be one.

I was wrong. I thought we could take the game in that moment, but over and above the result there is sportsmanship. Tricking the referee is not part of that.

Since he was heavily linked to Manchester United this summer, per John Drayton of the Daily Mail, Herrera has found himself at the centre of vastly increased media attention. Indeed, it is suggested that a move could still take place in January, per the Express' James Dickenson.

Had he not been linked with a move, it is unlikely this latest incident would have garnered as much attention—and certainly not outside of Spain.

However, Herrera will now be finding that when you are linked to a top club and valued at over £30 million, every move you make on and off the field will be analysed.

His comments, though, raise an interesting debate about the rights and wrongs of gamesmanship on a football pitch and, while he may insist that he was wrong now, it did not stop him demanding a penalty on the night.

The incident, of course, comes in the days following the controversy of Leroy Fer's disallowed goal for Norwich against Cardiff at the weekend and subsequent public admission that he had tried to score when he was expected to return the ball to the opposition goalkeeper.

Fer's comments provoked outrage in some quarters, including from former Wales striker Nathan Blake in his Wales Online column.

However, with the value attached to avoiding relegation and win bonuses, it is no surprise that Fer and Herrera would choose to attempt to find an easier route to victory.

Many will point to the concepts of sportsmanship but, as with Stuart Broad's refusal to walk at the Ashes, players will always feel the need to see what decisions they can get in their favour from officials for as long as their livelihoods depend on results.

Any other view is too romantic an outlook on modern sports and the winner-takes-all mentality required to be an elite level athlete.