HURT by being labelled a cheat, Jeronimo Neumann was almost reduced to tears yesterday at a press conference.
Despite allegations he took a dive to earn a penalty for Adelaide in its controversial 3-1 win against Wellington last Saturday, the Argentine striker said he believed he had done nothing wrong.
"The player took my t-shirt and I (went) down," he said.
When asked whether South Americans were unfairly targeted by referees, an emotional Neumann replied: "No, no".
With teammate Cassio translating, Neumann said he could not understand why everybody was talking like he was guilty of taking a dive.
"If the player pushed me and clipped me, why am I guilty?" Neumann said through his teammate.
"If he didn't touch me ... I could score the goal ... why am I guilty?
"We (South Americans) do everything to win the game. I can't see anything wrong because it wasn't my fault."
Cassio did admit Neumann's reaction to a hand in the back from Sigmund was a delayed one.
"Maybe he delayed it when he went down, but who cares? He touched him," Cassio said.
Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund was red-carded over the incident and skipper Andrew Durante labelled Neumann a cheat after the game.
Wellington initially said it would appeal the Sigmund red card, coach Ricki Herbert buying into the situation on Monday when he said referee Jarred Gillett had been incompetent and the game was being ruined by players who "dived".
Yesterday, however, the club elected to abide by the decision of the Match Review Panel, which had decided the red card would stand, ruling Sigmund out of its match against the Victory in Melbourne next Monday night.
In a brief statement yesterday, the club said: "The Wellington Phoenix has respectfully accepted the decision made by the FFA's Match Review Panel on the red card issued to Ben Sigmund."
General manager David Dome said the correct process had been followed and as far as the club was concerned the matter had been laid to rest.
The FFA has not taken the same view. Late yesterday, a spokesman said Wellington would be issued with a "please explain" for the comments made by Durante and Herbert, which the FFA said breached the code of conduct.
The spokesman said a response would be required by noon on Friday, but a decision on any penalty would be unlikely before Tuesday.
He also said the heaviest penalty would probably be a fine rather than match suspensions.
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