Unprofessional Foul


October 4, 2010

Nigel de Jong Is Most Definitely That Type of Player

Nigel de Jong has gone and done it again. In the third minute (third minute, really?) of yesterday’s match between Manchester City and Newcastle, de Jong went in hard and with both legs on Hatem Ben Arfa.

The result was a double leg fracture for Ben Arfa. And for de Jong? Nothing. No card, no censure. I mean, it was the third minute. What was Martin Atkinson suppposed to do? It was the THIRD minute. You can’t card a guy that early, much less send him off. It ruins the whole game when the referee inserts himself in the match like that.

Thankfully, there is one guy with sense out there. Bert van Marwijk, the guy that saw first hand de Jong doing this to Stuart Holden

and this to Xabi Alonso

while on international duty for The Netherlands in the last seven months (both only worth a yellow card, by the way) has dropped the dirty midfielder from the Dutch squad for the next two Euro qualifiers. Quoth van Marwijk: “I’ve seen the pictures back. It was a wild and unnecessary offence. He went in much too hard. It is unfortunate, especially since he does not need to do it. The funny thing is that the referee did not even show a yellow card for it. Apparently, there are other standards. But I have a problem with the way Nigel needlessly looks to push the limit. I am going to speak to him.”

Good on van Marwijk, I say. Although it may be an empty gesture in the end, de Jong can easily be put back on the team in the future, at least it’s a gesture. A starting point of saying “this guy is dirty”. Now if only we could get Capello to say he’s never picking Karl Henry for the team again ever.

What remains to be seen is if there is any sanction from the league or the club (HA HA HA HA. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. Clubs don’t care as long as it doesn’t impact their money). Theoretically, since the foul was not carded–or, for that matter, even whistled for–it’s safe to say that Atkinson “missed” it. That would seem to leave the door open for a video review of the tackle, and possibly a retroactive red card. (UPDATE: No action to be taken. Atkinson says he saw it and saw nothing in it)

But don’t hold your breath. That would be much too proactive for a backwater league like the EPL. Let’s leave that kind of video review to top-notch league like Australia instead. To do otherwise would ruin the integrity of the game, right?

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  1. In instances like this I wish the players would police themselves, meaning some sort of retribution. I’m not entirely sure why it won’t happen, though? I mean if De Jong or others of his ilk *cough, Shawcross* don’t care about other players’ careers, why should anyone care about his. Break his f**king leg. Sorry, Ryan but I’d say the same if it was an Arsenal player with a similar sort of history. If someone has a history of recklessness and violence I don’t think you’re obligated to play fairly with him.

  2. Anger begets typos, apparently.

  3. Ryan

    I have so many thoughts on this that it’s pretty tough for me to be coherent about it. But here goes.
    First of all, let’s get this out of the way: it was a dirty challenge by De Jong, intended to inflict pain on Ben Arfa. I don’t dispute that. At all.

    Now then, about van Marwijk. It ranks of hypocrisy to me. He saw absolutely no problem with Van Bommel and De Jong hacking their way to victory at the World Cup, but now that he has two relatively meaningless games coming up, he decides to take a stand? Let’s not canonize they guy for taking an easy stance with virtually no chance of repercussions.

    As for those calling for his suspension, fine. Like I’ve said, I can’t really dispute that. However, let’s be consistent. Was NDJ’s tackle yesterday any dirtier than any of the Paul Scholes Specials we’ve seen over the years? And yet commentators largely laugh those off. Or what about Stevie G’s history of dodgy elbows? Can we be up in arms about that too?

  4. ebullientfatalist

    F**k that guy. Seriously.
    @Goat: I can’t agree with you on that. An eye for an eye and all that stuff, I know, but I’m concerned with the slippery slope. Where can the line be drawn? If a broken leg is okay to police on the pitch, what then of a badly turned ankle a la Diaby? The tackling must be addressed from the top, and the way it is addressed is with a 3 strikes policy: each successive “horror” tackle leads to longer and longer suspensions.

  5. ebullientfatalist

    @Ryan: I know it’s Monday, and we’re all a bit punchy from the weekend, but did you really just make a “dodgy elbows – up in arms” joke? Because I admire the f**k out of you for it.

  6. phil

    I’m with EF here: every horror tackle is double the previous ban. If you’re red-carded for the first, then that means the second is 6 matches, the third is 12, etc. In the case of De Jong, where you’re not carded because the referee is mindnumbingly incompetent that he could f**k up a wet dream, the first tackle is a one match ban, subject to review and appeal, and the penalty doubles from there.

  7. Shane

    Ohhhhh dear. “He got the ball, but…”
    He got the ball. He got the ball. He got <the ball? He got the ball.
    Mmmm… ahem. Once again, “getting the ball” does not mean foul was not committed. Please stop prefacing any comment regarding the scissoring of an opponents leg or the studs up/over the ball challenge preferred by Englishmen with this statement.

  8. @EF: I guess I forgot to include something I’ve said before. The FA and the referees are unwilling to do anything about these challenges to prevent their recurring but someone needs to do something about it. If the FA are unwilling or unable to react, eventually someone is going to get their comeuppance and then there will be all sorts of hand-wringing from the powers that be and the media. That’s the only way this is going to stop. So to say that I would like to see some retribution is a tad rash, but that’s the only way I can see these type of challenges stopped or at least severely punished. Not that I would necessarily welcome further leg breaking but this kind of s**t gets me heated up. Also, that’s nothing compared to what comes out of my mouth when watching American football. I’ll involuntarily scream such gems as “RIP HIS F**KING LEG OFF AND BEAT HIM TO DEATH WITH IT!” all within earshot of my 3 1/2 year old. Perhaps I have anger issues.

  9. Shane

    Also, “it’s unfortunate” and “we need to make those kinds of challenges” should not be used in such cases, either.

  10. What was Martin Atkinson suppposed to do? It was the THIRD minute. You can’t card a guy that early, much less send him off.
    I kind of have a problem with this line of thinking. You absolutely can and must card a guy that early for a challenge like that. There’s nowhere in the rules that says you can’t give reds and yellows before a certain minute. Does it “ruin the game” to have to play with 10 men for 87 minutes? For that team, maybe. But maybe that team deserved to have their game ruined, because those are the rules for making a reckless challenge like that. And I’d say it ruins the game in general far more to have people breaking legs without consequence. There’s a similar idea that players are allowed one bad tackle and a warning before they get carded. I think that’s all horses**t. You make a challenge like that, you face the consequences. Period. And if Martin Atkinson “saw nothing in it” then he should be refereeing in League One the rest of the season.

  11. Shane

    I’m all for Crazy Tony Adams® coming back to play a handful of games and simply break legs for Arsene. All teams should be allowed to designate a 12th man who can come on the pitch at various times, not allowed to play the ball in any way, only to jackhammer opponents’ lower legs. We need that kind™ of physical play in football.

  12. bergkampesdios

    De Jong should have his leg broken AND receive a 12 match ban that starts after he’s healthy.

  13. phil

    @Ryan: of course we should be up in arms about those, and I think most around here have been fairly critical of Scholes’ disastrous tackling. As for Stevie G’s Bill Cartwright impersonations, well, I think his reputation leads a lot of people here and elsewhere to gloss his bad behaviors a bit. Not that it’s right. But that said, what Scholes and Gerrard do seems entirely irrelevant to what De Jong is doing. Besides I think the point of this post is less “De Jong is Dirty,” which a rather obvious point, and more “How the f**k does he continue to escape without penalty from his horror tackles?”

  14. Ryan

    @phil: I understand your argument, but that’s a heck of a slippery slope isn’t it? I mean, if we’re going to override referee decisions after the fact to clean up the game, I’m all for it. However, where does that stop? Is every tackle made in a game to be put under review?

    Another thought on all of this, are we comfortable making decisions based on the severity of the injury? What if Ben Arfa got up and walked away? Should the punishment remain the same? I think it was Essien yesterday who got Diaby’s ankle, but because Diaby was able to continue is Essien’s tackle somehow cleaner?

  15. Pradajames

    After watching him butcher the match, Atkinson probably isn’t the most reliable source on the rules of the game. He blew 2, maybe 3 penalty calls (Williamson on Tevez, Lescott on Shola, Perch(?) on Silva). He was downright terrible yesterday.

    The problem with suspending De Jong at this point is that it does nothing to stem the tide of reckless challenges. If there is no instant punishment for the play, then its pointless. De Jong later went on to try the same type of scissor leg tackle on Tiote (Tiote stood over De Jong and had words right after), again, without punishment.

    There is nothing that can be said or done to save Ben Arfa’s season at this point, suspending De Jong will do nothing to alter his style of play…the only way to do it is for the ref to take his f**king card out of his pocket and punish the teams on the field. If De Jong racks up enough cards, he will change his style. Plain and simple.

    Do you think De Jong gets held out of the return leg on Boxing Day? Barton might set off a Christmas cracker in his eye.

  16. Ryan

    @phil: Oh that was in reply to your first point, should have refreshed the page. Anyways, I have no problem with people going after De Jong this morning, I’m just asking where they were before? I know we all rip on Scholes, but the media is all set to give him awards, so there clearly is a disconnect.

  17. phil

    @LE: Right on. The line of thinking that says we can’t ruin one match to send off a player who’s ruined another player’s season and maybe career with a dirty challenge, is simply absurd.

  18. Pradajames

    @Ryan – I abhor Paul Scholes. Dirty, dirty player.

  19. Shane

    Anyone else want to email bomb Sports Interactive to change the Ball-winning Midfielder roles to “Defend”, “Support”, and “That Kind of Player”?

  20. @LE, Phil-
    I can’t use the sarcasm font on the whole post. Just assume it’s that way when you see my name.

  21. phil

    @Ryan: I absolutely think every challenge should be up for post-match review. It won’t take long. Someone loses their starting DM for 6-12 matches only has to happen once or twice before teams start policing their own.

    I agree completely with the Scholes argument. But that’s tilting and windmills here. You’re argument is better made against the footy media at large, and you’d be spot-on there, IMO. It’s the same thing with say, Joey Barton, who’s branded as dirty, but there’s only the good, hard football of guys like Cahill, Parker, or Bowyer, who are every bit as dirty as Barton. Footy writers have good guys and bad guys in the narrative they feed fans, and Schoels and De Jong are definitely on opposite sides of that line.

  22. phil

    Good Lord I cannot spell or construct a sentence this morning. Apologies to all whose eyes were just raped by my last post.

  23. Ryan

    Oh, that’s totally who I’m making the argument at. I’m not going after anyone on here, I’m pointing out how hypocritical the footy media is being. I don’t have access to the English footy shows, but evidently on one of them there’s a segment that highlights crunching tackles. If Ben Arfa had walked away from the incident, who wants to bet De Jong’s tackle wouldn’t have led off that montage, perhaps with a few hearty chuckles thrown in?

  24. ebullientfatalist

    I do hesitate to put an administrative oversight committee on bad tackles. The FA mangles so many simple decisions as it is, I’d hate for them to attempt to police something as a subjective as tackles.

  25. Why not some sort of appeals process, then? After the match a team can request that the FA review up to a certain number of incidents that might merit disciplining an opposing player. Certainly the FA would f**k it up and not hand out any suspensions but at least it would be a start.

  26. I think the NFL has a committee that can impose fines or suspensions on players for dangerous hits, why can’t the FA have something similar? Commence jokes about the FA’s incompetence ….now.

  27. Ryan

    What constitutes dangerous though? Is every studs up tackle dangerous? I’d contend that yes, they are. But then you’d have to suspend a lot of players, and not just villians like De Jong and Henry, but fine brave Englishmen like Scholes and Gerrard as well.

  28. Pradajames

    Maybe we can stone De Jong to death with the severed heads of Stevie G and Scholes. I wouldn’t protest.

  29. @Jacob: Oh good.
    I have no problem with post-match evaluation of on-field incidents (tackles, diving, whatever). The strongest argument against instant replay in soccer is that it would slow the game down. But allowing for post-match review would allow the game to be played at the same pace while still punishing offenders for breaking the rules. If players knew their actions weren’t just going to be examined fleetingly on the field, but before a panel looking repeatedly at all the camera angles, that’s got to help deter this sort of behavior.

  30. @PJ: That’s really the only sensible solution.

  31. Shane

    @LE: Also more leg-breaking. We need to review these kind of challenges and coach young English players on the proper way to break an opponents leg that still allows for getting the ball.

  32. Shane

    /burning this into the ground

  33. Shane

    In unrelated news, Kevin Doyle would like everyone to know that Karl Henry “is a very clean and fair player.” Also that “it was only because this game was live on TV that it attracted so much attention.”
    I was attracted to it because Jordi Gomez was visible in the air from my back porch, but that’s neither here nor there.

  34. corky

    In the US game, I was a little surprised Baby Bradley didn’t hack down de Jong in retaliation for the tackle on Holden. I do think that there is some value in having a tough guy who’ll throw some leg-snappers around if needed. It may not be gentlemanly, but that’s the quickest way to solve this.

  35. Pradajames

    @Corky – Frankly, I was a bit stunned that either Tiote or Barton didn’t inflict any retaliatory damage on a City player.


  37. Shane

    @DrG: L-U-C-A… wait a second…

  38. Wait you guys are actually putting Gerrard in the same breathe as Scholes and De Jong? Gerrard is no more dirty than Van Persie.

  39. There’s a difference between cheap shots and guys who are actively trying to break legs is what I’m saying. De Jong and Scholes are the latter.

  40. Tno

    Re: the title of this post.
    Mmmmhhhhmmmm I heard dat s**t.
    /sassy black woman voice.

  41. Wow just saw the update about Atkinson. I still do not get that rule at all. If there is no second guessing allowed there is no real motivation for the ref’s to get things right. At worst they get what a week in the Colaship or a game as the fourth official then it’s right back to it. Officials have far too much power.

  42. corky

    For example, back when Roy Keane was with Man U, did teams make bad tackles on Man U? I’d guess not, since they knew Roy was just crazy enough to hunt them down and end their careers. it is surprising Barton didn’t destroy de Jong — he’s crazy enough to do it.

  43. bergkampesdios

    Ryan – did you watch the Galaxy / Chivas game last night? There was an attempted tackle on Eddie Lewis that resulted in Lewis being sent off. That decision was one of the most laughable I’ve ever seen. But the point is that little c**t should get the same treatment as De. Jong for the clear intent to harm. Late, clumsy, that s**t happens. Two footed, studs up is ALWAYS meant to injure. F**k ‘em.

  44. Speaking of MLS and bad tackles, Frankie Hejduk is the master of the two-footed studs up tackle. As a Crew fan I like Frankie generally but that kind of s**t has to stop. I seriously hold my breath every time he goes into a tackle because I know a leg snappin’ could happen at any time and yet he’s rarely disciplined for it. I really wish someone or the league would do something about it. Just going on record so when it does happen you can see I’m concerned about that s**t even when it’s a member of my own team doing it.

  45. dc

    when has scholes ever broken anyone’s leg? never in 16 years. de jong? twice in 1 year.
    there’s ALSO a difference between reckless tackling and people “trying to break legs,” de jong, not scholes, is the latter

  46. Shane

    Not that it matters, but this doesn’t happen in Scotland. So I suppose this is one more area where England leads their fine northern neighbors.

  47. @Goat-Hejduk always scared the piss out of me on the USMNT because of those tackles. The big thing with Hejduk, though, is that he goes for and gets the ball with those two-footed, studs up tackles. It is a subtle, but important, difference.
    Caveats: 1) should he miss, he should be carded. Every time.
    2) Even when he doesn’t miss, it should be a foul because of the nature of the tackle, according to the rule book. That’s on the ref.

  48. Outside Mid

    deJong needs to stick with kung fu kicks to the chest; sternum might be a tougher bone to crack…

  49. Ryan

    @Georger: Gerrard was just the first to pop into my mind with the elbow thing from last week. There are loads of other examples of why it’s a double standard of course.

    @berg: Totally. What did I say to make you think I hold something other than that view though?

  50. Wacman

    @Shane FM reference FTW….

    And yes, we should, I’ll email Miles right now….

  51. bergkampesdios

    Ryan – no suggestion at all. Was writing in support of your implied view at 11:18, not in contradiction of.

  52. mnmike

    I know I’m late to the thread(west coast, and working), but one other thing I can’t stand is the “I don’t see any malice or intent to injure there”. Fine, but if you aren’t skilled enough to tackle cleanly and you wind up stamping someone’s ankle, shin or chest, then you get penalized. That’s how every sport works.

    If I’m a skilled player that has other options (see Fabergas), why would I want to stay in England and deal with this?

  53. Shane

    @Wac: Gotta slip that in there now and again.

  54. Anonsters

    (UPDATE: No action to be taken. Atkinson says he saw it and saw nothing in it)

    That’s a tad misleading. I was prepared to burn this bitch down in outrage until I read the link. It makes it seem like Atkinson is retrospectively saying the challenge was fine. All the link says is that Atkinson admitted he saw it, decided not to punish de Jong (though he doesn’t say why he decided that), and so the FA can’t do anything about it. I do think, though, that Atkinson owes us an explanation.

  55. Explain, lawyer dog, how my succinct explanation of what Atkinson said is any different from yours. He saw it and saw nothing to punish. Not even a foul.

  56. Oh, and Georger, I knew the Xavi/Xabi thing would get someone here outraged. While we had nothing to do with the video title, that was one of our early memes around here.

  57. Anonsters

    @Jacob: He didn’t say he saw nothing to punish. He said he chose not to punish it. Of course, it’s probably reasonable to conclude that that means he saw nothing to punish. Anyway, I misread it the first time because I thought it was saying that Atkinson looked back on the incident after the game and still saw nothing wrong with it. Hopefully he realizes now he f**ked it up. If he didn’t, that would be truly a f**kin’ disgrace.

  58. Shane

    Is it worth pointing out that Ben Arfa is one of teh Frenchies? Clearly this is the cause of the injury, and we should now all commence looking the other way in unison.

  59. Oh I know it wasn’t you guys that did it, or at least the thought never crossed my mind that it was your video. Soccernet got it wrong on almost every caption of a picture he was in. The letters aren’t even next to each other for f**k’s sake.

  60. Alright then, we’re all cool.

  61. Anonsters

    @Georger: They are on a QWERTY keyboard.

  62. Yeah I was looking at the X, oops. I don’t think it’s a typo issue though, it happens way too often. Just mixing it up with Xavi.

  63. Anonsters

    @Georger: Oh, yeah, definitely not a typo issue. More like a moe-ran issue.

  64. nobody recommends atkinson’s leg be broken after his horror performance? i’m still a mite peeved, perhaps.

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