Arjen Robben stood accused of several crimes after Bayern Munich’s Champions League win over Arsenal, but he has spoken out defiantly against the suggestion he spat at Bacary Sagna.
Robben, along with Toni Kroos, played chief tormentor for Bayern as they built a 2-0 lead in the first leg of Wednesday’s last-16 tie.
However, many of Thursday’s headlines centred not only on Arsene Wenger’s accusation that Robben dived to get Wojciech Szczesny sent off, but also on video images of fluid dropping onto Sagna’s hair:
It is relatively clear that it was sweat dripping from Robben’s chin, but the Netherlands international has opted to set the record straight, per the Daily Mail’s Kit Holden:
I don't have much hair, and the sweat just dripped off.
I must make this clear: I did not spit. I would never do that in my life.
If I ever did that, you could drag me off the pitch and ban me for 10 games. If I ever spat at an opponent, I'd never be able to show my face to my family ever again.
Both accusations levelled at Robben are quite scandalous, and both insult the player’s character.
Wenger had no right to accuse the Bayern winger of theatrics in getting Szczesny sent off when the score was at 0-0. The Arsenal keeper clearly took Robben out, so Wenger’s comments act as nothing more than sour grapes.
Ian Darke, commentator for BT Sport, offers his own view on Wenger:
The Sagna incident is unfortunate, and is a sad indicator of the dangers threatened by a social media site like Twitter.
The platform exploded when images of Robben’s fluid dropping onto Sagna emerged, instantly casting the former Chelsea man in the role of villain even though he was entirely innocent:
Fortunately for Robben, his reputation in the game has grown immeasurably over recent years, culminating in his winning goal in last season’s Champions League final.
The speed of his statement on the manner should ensure the story is quickly nipped in the bud, preventing any investigative action from UEFA.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, that means—barring injury—he will be available to torment them again in the return leg, by which time Bayern may also have partner-in-crime Franck Ribery back to attack from the other flank.