Marseille Threaten To Sue Nigel De Jong As Ridiculous Witch Hunt Continues

Marseille Threaten To Sue Nigel De Jong As Ridiculous Witch Hunt Continues


The name of Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong has become synonymous with mindless thuggery and splintered fibias over the past few weeks, thanks largely to the relentless castigations emanating from press circles admonishing the Dutchman for his ‘six months of shame’.

It all began back in March of this year when, during a friendly game with the USA, a mistimed and needlessly robust tackle from De Jong broke the leg of promising American star Stuart Holden. Floods of scorn were duly forthcoming, exacerbated perhaps by the fact that the blond-haired blue-eyed Holden (who was then only 24-years-old) looked set to miss out on his maiden World Cup due to such unnecessary abandon.

De Jong then blotted his copybook again three months later when a particularly unrefined World Cup display culminated in him kicking his Spanish counterpart Xabi Alonso in the heart during the latter stages of the final.

The widespread defamation began to simmer once again but, like any good witch-hunt, died down as soon as the baying mobs forgot what they were actually angry about – although City’s ever-thoughtful ‘enforcer’ issued them with a timely reminder during the last round of Premier League fixtures.

With the game just 10 minutes old, Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa was levelled courtesy of our protagonist and, due entirely to the awkward angle at which the challenge took place along with the fact that his studs were rooted in the unforgiving turf, the French international suffered a broken leg that will see him sidelined for at least the next six months.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this call, but I didn’t think the tackle was particularly reckless (biology dictates that De Jong’s trailing leg had to ‘scissor’) and it certainly wasn’t ‘sickening’ or ‘immoral’ (tellingly, referee Martin Atkinson didn’t see fit to issue a yellow card), it just so happened that Ben Arfa sustained a significantly bad injury as a result.

It was an accident, case closed.

Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa leaves the pitch on a stretcher

After the incident, Newcastle submitted a strong-worded letter to the Football Association (FA), asking them to suspend De Jong from domestic competition for as long as Ben Arfa remained prostrate. The FA agreed to examine the case, but admitted that there was almost no chance of them being able to retrospectively punish De Jong, as referee Atkinson took no action during the game itself – a suitable get-out clause from a line of enquiry that they didn’t think was worth pursuing.

With typical French melodrama, Marseille (Ben Arfa’s parent club) are now threatening to bring about legal action against De Jong – with president Jean-Claude Dassier revealing this morning that the club’s phalanx of ambulance-chasing lawyers are already examining the case;

“We will clearly bring charges against the player. You need to rid the European football pitches of this kind of player.”

One suspects that, despite their ‘for the good of the game’ stance, Marseille have far more finance-centric motivation to sue cash-rich Manchester City.

Thanks to a clause in his contract, they were guaranteed a £5 million transfer fee for Ben Arfa if he had managed 25 games whilst on loan at Newcastle this season, but now are left with the prospect of having to rehabilitate a volatile player that actually went on strike in order to engineer a move away from the Stade Velodrome this summer.

Can you just imagine the ridiculous precedent Marseille would be setting if they won? If, henceforth, insurers were to pay out every time an unfortunate but accidental injury occurred after a genuine attempt to win the ball then they’d be looking at indemnifying hundreds of cases every season.

What utter histrionic nonsense.

Speaking about the challenge that broke Holden’s leg earlier this year, De Jong explained his footballing ethos;

“Such offences are part of football. I went for the ball and got the opponent at the end. I had no evil intent. If the ball is between me and the opponent, you have to go in full.

If you do not then the opponent takes you, and if you’re scared in a game you get injured yourself.”

City would be wise to maintain a level of public support for their maligned anchor man as it’s easy to forget that, before the current swathes of mass-hysteria and smear served to denigrate him to the status of ‘thoughtless grunt’, it was the exact-same levels of gutsy commitment that elevated De Jong above his peers for many-a-year.

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  1. Only makes sense if a) Marseille are still paying Ben Arfa’s wages, which they probably aren’t) and b) if Newcastle don’t sign Ben Arfa at the end of the summer for that transfer fee, which they probably will since they are unlikely to find that quality of player for such less money.

  2. Amen. It’s about time someone looked at this issue objectively. The hysteria and witch-hunting against de Jong has indeed been relentless.

  3. An objective comment at last!
    Prior to the realisation that Ben Arfa had sustained a break, the facts were:

    The tackle was strong but fair, in that it broke no rules.
    None of the officials saw fit to make an issue over it.
    The match commentator and Summariser (Geordie Waddle) decalred it to be a hard but fair tackle and just unfortunate.
    The studio pundits, Messrs Butt and Keegan saw no foul.

    Since then the self publicists pundits like the whining Stan Collymore, a Dutch manager looking to blame someone other than himself and his son-in law for the World Cup Final debacle, a meejah pack of starving hyenas with column inches to invent and a despicable Frenchman, greedy for petro dollars have all joined in a witch hunt to demonise a decent lad who plays hard but fair, in the tradityion of the English game and who has (somewhat surprisingly when you read whats been written about him) never been red carded since he joined ManCity and who gets an average of one yellow card per 4 games.

    So who exactly is being cynical?
    That tackler or the lynch mob?


    • I do believe there is reason for concern regarding De Jong. I will admit that the Ben Arfa challenge was pushing the line of fair. It was hard, but fair nonetheless. As for the Holden and Alonso incidents: if you look at the Holden challenge, De Jong came in late, studs up, with a high boot. I don’t believe that it was an intentional high boot but that doesn’t matter. A high boot constitutes a yellow card that he did not receive. The Alonso kick was a horrendous decision that I’m surprised didn’t see him sent off with a straight red. I will not say he is a reckless thug. He does have a habit, though of pushing the boundaries of fair play. He should receive the benefit of the doubt now, but he is on a short leash. If he is involved in another incident in the near future (next 6-12 months) I think he should receive disciplinary punishment. It is a little odd that he has been involved in so many incidents in such a short period of time.

    • I couldnt agree more everyone else is blowing this thing out of proportion, it was strong but fair and everyone else needs to stick there heads out of there arses and see that.

  4. @Alphie: Surprisingly, De Jong has only ever been red-carded once in his eight-year professional career.

    Whilst still at Hamburg, he picked up a second yellow for showing his studs during a European tie against Rapid Bucharest back in 2006.

  5. The fact that the Dutch coach dropped De Jong and said for him to take a look in the mirror speaks volumes for the fact that it’s not just a witch hunt.

    Both the tackles that he made against Holden and especially Arfa did not need to be made sliding – check the Ben Arfa tackle, the ball was there to be passed almost let alone a 60/40 challenge, but De Jong decided to go to floor, he was always going to get the ball so it doesn’t look as bad, but he also knows he will get the player – he knows and now he’s been dropped from the Dutch team because he does try to hurt opponents slyly

  6. De Jong, and thugs like him, should not be allowed to play.Since they do not have the technical skill they rely on brute force to destroy skillful players, thus destroying the beauty of the game. Any good coach would have sent him home after his karate Kit on Afonso during the World Cup. In fact some jail time would not have been out of linbe!

    • John

      So De Jong is a thug then? He’s been sent off once in eight years. Hardly the record of a thug. As regards technical skill he’s probably the best holding midfielder in Europe but I wouldn’t expect you to be acquainted with either the facts or knowledge as you clearly know FA about the game.

  7. Such pure evil can only be remedied by:
    Tar and feathers, the pillory and the stake,or,
    a night of carousing with Wayno.

  8. Finally a proper opinion in this press driven mob for de jongs blood, if the leg wasnt broken no one would have even looked at the challenge again as proved by no foul, card or even complaint from the newcastle bench. only once the press believed they could create a headline out of it did he get dropped and painted as an evil thug in which someone commented ‘how long until he kills someone’

    fed up of clueless fans calling for jail and such

  9. now, this is why i come here! the comedic writing is second to none!

    really, three times since march of this year, de jong’s made some poor tackles. it’s not like he hurt somebody last season, and the villagers are scared of dutchmen so they parade with no tackling placards down their streets. i don’t think i’d agree with any action against de jong if he hadn’t shown that he’s out to hurt players.

    if you watch him tackle ben arfa, he takes the ball, then swings through with his right leg, very hard. it’s two separate actions. we’ve all seen calls against the tackler for getting too much of the man, even while getting the ball. this was one of those times. until de jong gets reprimanded for this type of play, it’s only gonna get worse.

    he’s broken two legs this year. this cannot be ignored.

  10. Again this stuff… First reviewing his infamous recent history with Stuart Holden and Xabi Alonso, and immediately after doing as if it never happened. It DID happen, you know? It DID happen. So why are you basing your opinion about De Jong only in what you consider a “fair tackle” to Ben Arfa? Why are you overlooking the fact that he did a “mistimed and needlessly robust tackle” on Holden (in your own words) or that he kicked Xabi Alonso “in the heart” (again your own words)? Are you fine with the fact of kicking hearts into a football field? By the way, IN THE LATTER STAGES OF THE FINAL??? Pfff… what a journalist, it was at 28:00, man, don´t you see the videos you link?

  11. Fran – I think you missed the point. you’ve taken it in the wrong context. what he’s actually saying is the very thing you’re arguing against. i think you may be confused by the quite jokey style of the piece if English isn’t ure 1st language?

    The Holden tackle is described as NEEDLESSLY robust because it was in a friendly, not because it was too hard to win the ball etc…

    These 3 quite isolated incidents have turned De Jong in to a boogeyman, but he hasn’t got a bad record for discipline, especially for a combative DMF.

    And to call out and insult the writer for getting the time of the ALONSO challenge wrong – that’s just nitpicking and not called for cos it’s a very good article otherwise – as you say yourself, IT DID HAPPEN and it doesn’t realy matter when.

    the fact that Ben Arfa broke his leg means that people relate it to the Holden/Alonso tackles – but if he’d been alright then no one would have mentioned it (as Jake says above).

  12. Here’s a quote from Wiki.
    Was this man banned by his country?
    Not bloody likely, he was given Sainthood along with the Captain’s arm band!
    Lets have a bit of perspective when talkng about DeJong please, he plays the game hard in the tradition of the English game, you can argue he plays too hard some time but really! He doesn’t approach this level of pre-meditated violence or it’s accompanying lack of class!!!

    Quote: Roy Keane made headlines again in the 2001 Manchester Derby, a game in which Alf-Inge Håland played. Five minutes from the final whistle, he was sent off for a blatant knee-high foul on the Norwegian in what was seen by many as an act of revenge.[15] He initially received a three game suspension and a £5,000 fine from the FA, but further punishment was to follow after the release of Keane’s autobiography in August 2002, in which he stated that he intended “to hurt” Håland. Keane’s account of the incident was as follows:

    I’d waited long enough. I f*cking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c*nt. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.

    An admission that the tackle was in fact a premeditated assault, it left the FA with no choice but to charge Keane with bringing the game into disrepute. He was banned for a further five matches and fined £150,000 in the ensuing investigation. Despite widespread condemnation, he later maintained in his autobiography that he had no regrets about the incident: “My attitude was, f*ck him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He f*cked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.”

    NICE EH!

  13. Nails, let´s put it this way. Brian Kidd said about De Jong: “he´s not that type of player” Well, what type of player does he mean? Yes, I do know De Jong is not the type of player who intentionally tries to injure opponents, but he certainly is the type of player who likes to go hard for the ball NOT CARING AT ALL about his opponents and the risk for them to get hurt. That´s what the word “reckless” means. In other words, he´s not the kind of driver who deliberately runs over people, but he is the kind of driver who likes to go at 100 mph on secondary roads and ends up “accidentally” running over people. IMO there´s no place for none of them in a field/road. And of course the fact that when his opponent is down and in great pain Nigel doesn´t show at least a little bit of compassion or concern about his health condition doesn´t help him that much. At this point you know that he´s not had the courage to apologize to Ben Arfa, don´t you? Because you know the news about him trying to contact Ben Arfa are wrong and it was Brian Marwood who tried, not De Jong. That says all about him.

  14. Anybody who has played football, knows that to tackle a player with both feet is out to hurt. It is dumb and stupid and should be banned from the game.

    De Jong’s performance in the world cup final was a disgrace and he should have been sent off. The English refferee failed to control the game properly and the match was ruined as a spectacle and an advertisement for good football.

    Journo’s like you who try to condone this kind of thuggery are doing our game a great dis-service and hinder the developement of the skill factors that we are so much in need of.
    You need a good kick up the rear asterix along with the FA and those clubs backed with shonkey money, who will stop at nothing to achieve their tainted ambition’s and sordid plans.

    We need to pull the chain and flush this brown stuff away and get some honest perspective back into our game

  15. T break one leg in a career is unfortunate, to break 2 in six months is totally unacceptable.

    It shows, along with a stud into the chest in a World Cup final, that his play should not be tolerated.

    In this latest incident he followed through with his knee and training leg deliberately to bring the player down.

    Tackling should not be outlawed but this craze of following through with a trailing leg must.

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