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Football: German footballer dives, wins illegitimate penalty, but still hailed a hero

Published on Mar 10, 2014 6:27 PM
 

Werder Bremen midfielder Aaron Hunt has been hailed as a hero, despite him being guilty of diving to earn a penalty.

With his side up 2-0 in the 75th minute of a German Bundesliga match against Nuremberg on Saturday, the German international fell theatrically inside the penalty box after a challenge from Argentine defender Javier Pinola.

Video replays showed that Pinola made no contact with Hunt, but the referee pointed to the spot and awarded Bremen a penalty.

But rather than celebrating the decision, Hunt, 27, went up to the referee and admitted that he had made more of the challenge than he should have. The referee reversed his decision and chose not to book Hunt for simulation.

Bremen's midfielder Aaron Hunt (right) and Dortmund's midfielder Nuri Sahin vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match Weder Bremen vs Borussia Dortmund in Bremen, northern Germany on Feb 8, 2014. Hunt has been hailed as a hero, despite him being guilty of diving to earn a penalty. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

"Out of instinct, I wanted to provoke the penalty, but that was wrong," Hunt, who was born to an English mother and German father, later told Sky Sports. "I struggled with myself a bit (to say something), but we don't want to win any games like that, even if we are in a relegation battle."

Hunt was rewarded for his honesty with a handshake from Pinola and came in for praise from his fellow players and fans online.

"I take my hat off to him," said Pinola. While Nuremberg defender Mike Frantz added: "He showed why he's their captain." Even his own coach, Robin Dutt, chipped in with more praise, saying: "Congratulations to Aaron Hunt for having told the referee that it was not a penalty."

The match finished 2-0 to Bremen, who are lying 11th in the 18 team table, eight points above the relegation zone.

Earlier in the same game, Nuremberg's Japanese international Hiroshi Kiyotake also made a sporting gesture when he indicated to the referee that a corner awarded to his team should instead be a Werder goal-kick.

Hunt's actions were reminiscent of Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler's dive to win a penalty against Arsenal in a 1997 English Premier League match. He protested against the decision but to no avail, though he went on to miss the spot-kick. He was later bestowed the UEFA Fair Play award for his exemplary behaviour that day.