Owen: I could have stayed up

  • Last Updated: October 10 2012, 20:47 BST

Michael Owen has admitted he was "guilty" of going down for both his World Cup penalties against Argentina when he could have stayed on his feet.

Owen: I could have stayed up

The 32-year-old striker won penalties for England at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments - the only spot-kicks awarded to the national side at World Cups since 1990.

Owen insisted he had not dived because there was contact in both cases but said he could have stayed on his feet.

He made his admission at the Leaders in Football conference on the same panel in front of Pierluigi Collina - UEFA's head of refereeing and the official who awarded the 2002 penalty.

Owen is now at Stoke, whose manager Tony Pulis this week called for a three-match ban for simulation after a blatant dive by Liverpool's Luis Suarez, but he would not repeat that call.

He said: "It is the topic of the week, last year we were probably talking about diving. Next week it will be drugs or racism, we are just round on the cycle. I don't think it's really different from last year.

"It is in our game, it is happening so fast these days that it is virtually impossible to see whether there was contact.

"I'd say that 75 per cent of people could stay on their feet for a penalty, and if they get touched and go down it is almost, 'hey got touched so it's okay to go down'.

"I have been guilty as well, I played at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina and I was running flat out, got a nudge, went down. Could I have stayed up? Yes probably.

"Then four years later you [Collina] gave me a penalty again against Argentina. Again, I could have stayed on my feet, the defender's caught me and I did have a decent gash down my shin from it but I could have stayed up."

Roberto Ayala was the Argentina player penalised for felling Owen in 1998 in St Etienne. Alan Shearer scored from the spot but England went on to lose in the shoot-out.

In 2002, Collina penalised Mauricio Pochettino for fouling Owen, and David Beckham scored to give England a 1-0 win.

Owen argued that enticing a challenge from a defender that caused a foul in the penalty box was a skill.

He added: "It's a very difficult subject to talk about especially to people who have not played the game. There is a major skill in trying to outwit an opponent.

"For the actual player one against one, you're trying to draw people, to commit them, to get into the box because you know as soon as you have got them in the box they are petrified of sticking a leg out or doing anything. It is a skill to get them one on one or isolated.

"No-one is for blatantly diving, of course they are not, but there is a part of a striker that actually tries to entice the leg to come out to try to win a penalty.

"It is a skill and it has been done for years and years and I don't think it will ever leave the game.

"I'm totally against diving, I have never been for it or sought to get a penalty without being touched, but you try to push the boundaries to win a game for your team without cheating."

Collina agreed with Owen that if there was contact from the defender then it was a foul.

He said: "There's a big difference, Michael spoke about a shin-guard broken. A player has a right to fall down if a foul was committed.

"I understand that a player who was hit by an opponent falls down. If he falls down without any contact this is the problem and if there is no contact this is cheating.

"If the contact is provoked by the attacker moving the leg away from the running direction trying to find the opponent's leg this is the problem.

"Simulation is not only against the referee, it's cheating your opponent."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who was also the panel, said he had had to instruct one of his players not to dive.

Martinez said: "I had a player that used to dive a lot - he wasn't British. In Spain, it is not seen as cheating. It is seen as getting something back from the team.

"Here we see it as cheating. I had just signed this player from a Spanish club and the first game he goes past a defender and he goes down easy, and I said 'you can't do that'."


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