The Dutch turn on De Jong after Ben Arfa tackle
The Holland midfielder is dropped after yet another wild tackle and told to see a ‘mental doctor’
Nigel de Jong is rapidly becoming the pariah of world football after his brutal tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa at the weekend that left the Newcastle winger with a double fracture of his left leg. Replays of the challenge have been beamed round the world, along with images of the young Frenchman being carried off on a stretcher with an oxygen mask clamped to his face, and the reaction has been one of unanimous disgust. "De Jong needs to see a mental doctor," was the blunt assessment of Sparta Rotterdam coach Jan Everse, while Holland's national coach, Bert van Marwijk, called the tackle "wild and unnecessary".
But van Marwijk went further, backing up his words with actions, and sensationally dropping the Manchester City midfielder from the Dutch squad ahead of their Euro 2012 qualifies against Moldova and Sweden. "I just informed the squad and told them I saw no other possibility," van Marwijk said on Monday, adding: "I have a problem with the way Nigel needlessly looks to push the limit. I am going to speak to him... but right now we have to focus on the upcoming two matches."
It's not as if De Jong is a first-time offender, as Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden would testify. He had his right leg broken by a De Jong special in March while playing for the USA against Holland, and the Dutchman also dropped Spain's Xabi Alonso with a shocking chest-high challenge during July's World Cup, a tackle for which he later admitted he should have been sent off.
He wasn't, however, and nor was he punished by referee Martin Atkinson for the challenge on Ben Arfa, something that van Marwijk finds hard to believe. "I've seen the pictures back," said the Dutch coach. "It was a wild and unnecessary offence. He went in much too hard... the funny thing is that the referee did not even show a yellow card for it. Apparently, there are other standards."
No comment has been forthcoming from De Jong on his exclusion from the Dutch squad, but some of his peers have made their views known on his tackle. "Nigel de Jong has pedigree, a bit like [Mark] van Bommel," said Arsenal's Samir Nasri in an interview with Eurosport. "Referees should know that these players make foul tackles [but] what strikes me is the refereeing. The referee saw Hatem exit on a stretcher with an oxygen mask yet he didn't punish De Jong. It's that that has to change in England."
But the most damning critique of De Jong came from a compatriot, Dutch football presenter Hugo Vorst, who told his viewers: "De Jong is a criminal who needs to be dragged out of football." ·
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