October 9th, 2010
07:33 PM ET

Do hardmen still have their place in the beautiful game ?

Nigel de Jong's chest high tackle on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final was widely condemned.
Nigel de Jong's chest high tackle on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final was widely condemned.

When does a hard man become a bad man? That’s the issue currently being debated by the football fraternity following claims by FIFA’s top medical official, Dr. Michel d'Hooghe, that professional football is being disfigured by what he called "criminality" and "brutality" on the pitch.

Those are some harsh words from one of the longest-serving members of FIFA”s executive committee, and they've obviously raised the hackles of many in the game, notably the global players' union, FIFPro, which rejects the idea that any player would deliberately try to injure a fellow professional.

However, that flies in the face of the old football ethos in which managers would often advise the more physical of their players to “let him know you’re there” in reference to dealing with a tricky opponent.

In fact, it used to be, and possibly still is, accepted practice to put in a harsh challenge on a so-called “Fancy Dan” early on just to put him off his game and make him wary each time he got the ball.

Players built their reputations on it: Ron “Chopper” Harris of Chelsea. Norman “Bites your legs” Hunter of Leeds, Miguel Angel Nadal, (Rafa’s uncle) better known as “The Beast“ of Barcelona, Claudio Gentile, (part of a trio of Italian hard men completed by Giuseppe Bergomi and Marco Tardelli), Andoni Goikoetxea, alias the “Butcher of Bilbao”.

The list is endless. Every country had its hatchet men, many of whom could play, but were world renowned for living by the sword. And whether they were punting Pele out of a World Cup or menacing Maradona in the Serie-A, they were lauded for a job they were proud to do.

However, apparently, times have changed. Bad boys, such as Manchester City’s hard hitting henchman, Nigel de Jong, are increasingly regarded as pariahs of the game.

His tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa, which broke the leg of the Newcastle forward, was the catalyst that sparked Dr. d'Hooghe’s damning words, even though the good doctor, ever the diplomat, denied he was referring to any particular player.

Netherlands drop De Jong after Ben Arfa incident

The Dutch midfielder, whose methods were already in the spotlight following a brutal chest high tackle on Xabi Alonso during the World Cup Final, has now been dropped from the Netherlands national team by coach, Bert Van Marwijk, who promises to speak to de Jong about “the way he needlessly looks to push the limit.”

But is that what the game wants - neutered hard men?

De Jong, despite the occasionally catastrophic outcome of his challenges, is only fulfilling a role that footballers have filled since the game began. There are creators, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and then there are destroyers, whose job is to stop their opponents and/or win the ball so that their own maestros can do their thing. Both parties know the score.

Obviously, in an ideal world, all tackles would be hard but fair. But it’s a contact sport with a lot at stake, so mistakes will be made and lines will be crossed. That’s why we have referees and governing bodies - to punish misdemeanors.

And violent conduct should be punished, even, as Dr. d'Hooghe has suggested, retrospectively based on video evidence. But equally, it has to be understood that sometimes violence, or the appearance of violence, is a by-product of endeavor and passion, with the unfortunate victims as the casualties of war.

I suspect that’s what de Jong would argue, and he does have his sympathizers. After all, it's Football we're talking about not Foosball, and a crunching tackle can still be a beautiful thing.  


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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Dorelu

    " is only fulfilling a role that footballers have filled since the game began. There are creators, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi,"
    Hahah, you've made my day....since when is "Ken" Ronaldo a "game maker"?!?!

    Otherwise, you are very right and I fully agree with you: football is more and more like wrestling or street fight and the last world cup final is a very good example: the dutch players kept slicing and dicing while Spain tried to play some football.

    Beside de Jong, do not forget van Bommel, he is also a boxer instead of a footballer.

    October 10, 2010 at 3:47 am | Reply
  2. Pelé

    This is a contact sport, if you don't like contact go play tennis or checkers. 'Nugh said.

    October 10, 2010 at 3:58 am | Reply
  3. sg

    It's not fair to brand players whose task is to stop opponents going forward "destroyers" because no good footballers will resort to chest-high and break-leg tackle to stop opponents.

    "But equally, it has to be understood that sometimes violence, or the appearance of violence, is a by-product of endeavor and passion, ..." Outside the football field, such violence or appearance of violence is punishable by law.

    Please do not use passion as an excuse. It should be plain simple, is a tackle as in the picture posted over-the-top? Yes/No.

    October 10, 2010 at 4:11 am | Reply
  4. apollo

    this man isn't a footballer... he is a murderer! and must be chased away from every professional games.

    October 10, 2010 at 4:26 am | Reply
  5. Aaron

    I advise everyone who reads this article to go to Youtube and search for the video of the tackle, and then come back here and give the author some flack for defending it.

    I do not disagree with the main premise: football is a hard sport, sometimes people get hurt. However, when you watch the video of the De Jong/Afra tackle, De Jong clearly could win the ball with his left foot alone, but he decides to swing his right leg in behind Afra in a scissoring motion, which can cause rolled ankles at least but in this instance he came in too high and essentially broke Afra's leg by himself. Either way, De Jong doesn't deserve to be on the pitch. If it was a mistake, he shouldn't play, because he is a professional footballer, and professionals should know how to tackle without breaking legs. I personally think that the video shows pretty clearly that the inclusion of the right leg in the tackle at all is pretty unnecessary and shows an intent from De Jong to injure Afra in some way.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:04 am | Reply
  6. Arjen

    A football hard tackle is like a fairy slap to a rugby player. To even call football a contact sport is a joke. The players are falling and diving all over the place even before they are touched.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:20 am | Reply
  7. Jaba

    That is nonsense,

    The author seems to imply that there is place for violence in football.

    There is none, as there is no place for doping. Culprits of unnecessary violence (i.e., all violece) should be banned for as olong as their victims stay off the field due to their fault.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:46 am | Reply
  8. Ignatius Albert Wijaya

    I think we have to differentiate hardmen from players who play violently. Hardmen still play within the rules of the game, while players who play violently often try to get around the rules, with some even intentionally doing so. As for De Jong, I think he never intended to hurt any of the 3 players he has given horrific tackles or kicks. But then we must show them that such actions should not be seen in football.
    Football definitely still has a place for the so-called hardmen. In my opinion these players are the ones who dictate the flow of the game. Winning teams of recent major championships have at least one of them; Gattuso in Italy 2006, Senna in Spain 2008 and Busquets in Spain 2010.

    October 10, 2010 at 6:35 am | Reply
  9. jon

    the real crime in football isn't the hard men, it's the soft men.

    a guy breathes on you or looks at you in a hurtful way, and you fall to the ground holding your leg like you've been shot. once the ref decides to throw/not throw a flag, you get up and start running again?

    quit taking dives and take up a real sport.

    October 10, 2010 at 6:36 am | Reply
  10. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    protect,save beautiful games,play.

    October 10, 2010 at 7:26 am | Reply
  11. andrei

    de jong should be kept off the pitch as long as ben arfa stays out. this rule was oce imolemented but they left it.

    October 10, 2010 at 7:52 am | Reply
  12. Art

    It is sadly clear that you never played the sport of which you write.

    You have access to a huge international billboard. You can do a lot of good for the sport; pitty you did little or no thinking before you posted your article.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:17 am | Reply
  13. Juan Gonzalez Cabeza

    Hardmen do have a place in soccer as long as the referees let them do, as crearly seen when Xabi Alonso was brutally attacked by Nigel de Jong and his assault treated by the referee as a minor fault. And as long as hard play is not prosecuted as a criminal offense: a broken leg as a result of a brutal attack in soccer by this same Nigel is not something to excuse and understand as a risk of the trade, just because we are in a sports game. It is bodily harm of the same penal category as if inflinged in a street fight.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:24 am | Reply
  14. rubel

    This secnery is very bad for foodball.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:25 am | Reply
  15. Tony

    There is hard but fair, and then there is positively brutal and unnecessary. A player who causes serious injury to another player with a deliberately unfair tackle should be suspended for as long as the injured player is out of the game.

    What I find weird about Nigel deJong is that during his time with Ajax and Hamburg, he never was this type of a player. What has happened to him in the last two years is both interesting and increasingly disappointing.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:42 am | Reply
  16. Eric

    Terry, what about you spending more time commenting about street fighting? Or then a thesis on gladiator massacres? If you write about football, you must at least like being sporty. That is why sport practice is such a great education and universal tool. By definition destroyers destroy football but also the nobility that comes with surpassing the opponent while respecting his/her humanity. At last the Netherlands coach got it. A few of his players ridiculed a whole team in the Worldcup final and tarnished for ever the reputation of Dutch football which used to be synonymous something grand. Let those thugs play and pretty soon you have no football anymore.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:48 am | Reply
  17. Rakker

    The recent events around de Jong are made even more noteworthy by the change in Dutch football specifically. And the opinions about it. Van Marwijk has demonstrated that you can almost take the prize without playing well. Great. We knew that Bert. The final of the last World cup seems to be a turning (back) point. In the Netherlands there is a large group that considers the final was a complete disgrace and sell out of Dutch tradition. De Jong's karate kick was the moment when I changed from wanting the Cup, to wanting to see good soccer again. The best team was Spain. So the Dutch tried to beat them literally. We sold out.

    I say "enough"! Time to show how beautiful the game can be, like Cruijff and Bergkamp. Winning is just a consolation prize and not worth hurting people for. Where is the football in de Jongs actions?

    October 10, 2010 at 9:09 am | Reply
  18. Danny

    Brutal fouls should be a red card for a season; if repreated the following season , life-time banishment. Football is football, not flagrant disregard for the RULES.

    October 10, 2010 at 9:09 am | Reply
  19. zimbok

    I watch soccer every time my team has a game and can not remember a moment when "a crunching tackle can still be a beautiful thing". If a player seeks the thrill of violence he ought pursue a career in Rugby where his peers will issue him his fair share of the same.

    Its really unfair to kick Messi while he least expects it simply because he can dribble and is of a tiny stature. Whenever players face Ibrahimovich they tend to kick him much less, because he can fix that right there.

    October 10, 2010 at 9:09 am | Reply
  20. luda

    de jong should take it easy on tackles.

    October 10, 2010 at 9:27 am | Reply
  21. eamon sheeran

    deJong was not tackling Alonso.Play the video two seconds before the clash.de Jong was going for the ball and along came Alonso and it was absolutelty impossible for de Jong not to hit him Notice how Alonso was up and playing a few seconds later.If de Jond had hit him on purpose he would be in a wheelchair, today. I am not Dutch. In fact I am a supporter of Real Madrid and the Spanish side,but I do believe that this is a foul that never was intentional. As I said,play the video from a point just a few seconds before what we see in the photo.

    October 10, 2010 at 10:11 am | Reply
  22. PastRef

    The author's name says it all: Bad Do(o).

    Football is sport, not war. Mr. Bad-doo, would you like to go on the field and have hard men break your leg? Or would you hope to be one of the breakers immune to "unfortunate victimhood"?

    And you like artful players under threat or fear for practicing great art.

    Maybe you should take up war correspondence. Embed yourself in Afghanistan, for example. Or go cover narco traffickers in Cuidad Juarez - including for the local media. Become a tough guy of value.

    October 10, 2010 at 10:16 am | Reply
  23. Sergio Wolff

    the top teams of all time have all had one or two players who main purpose on the pitch was to disrupt the opponent's attacking game. a great football team simply cannot exist of playmakers and finishers only. these are players who everyone loves to hate, but they play an integral part in any team's succes. even though he sometimes crosses the line, Nigel de Jong is still my favorite player on the Dutch national team. I wonder how his heroics would have been viewed in hindsight if Oranje had actually lifted the World Cup....

    October 10, 2010 at 10:32 am | Reply
  24. Daniel

    A "football player" like Nigel de Jong should be banned from football for long time. I think he should be banned for twice the time it takes the injured to get back on the field.

    October 10, 2010 at 10:42 am | Reply
  25. Luis

    that Dutch player is a criminal!!!

    October 10, 2010 at 10:49 am | Reply
  26. Boyko

    Let's not forget that earlier in the year De Jong also broke Stewart Holden's leg in a FRIENDLY. Two broken legs and a karate kick to the chest in a less than an year is a pretty obvious pattern.

    October 10, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  27. Ren

    Some players should be banned from soccer.

    A professional soccer player should know the difference between a tackle and a karate kick that can break someones legs or ribs.

    Many professional players had their career haulted for years beacuse of broken legs even Pele in1966.
    it ruins the game and it can seriously injure someone damaging their career and life.

    I mean some tackles are clear that they dont mean to get the ball but to break someones knee in half so they should be banned for at least a year after doing something so hideous.

    October 10, 2010 at 11:36 am | Reply
  28. Mike McHugh

    With respectful disagreement to Mr. Baddoo's position on the subject, I would argue that any action that carries with it a penalty–or the very real risk of avoidable injury to another player–has no place on the field or court of any game.

    Rules in sports exist for a reason. And defending the kind of behavior described in this article only goes to show the lack of progress we have made in our attitudes towards the hard work, skill and dedication of true athletes (whatever that term might actually mean in this day and age).

    Now its probably fair to say that this win-at-any-cost mentality has been one of the primary forces driving the interaction, competition, and domination of civilizations throughout human history. And of course, that would be at the very heart of its justification in the eyes of those who say its "just part of the game", or that this is what the real world is like, and we might as well get used to it.

    Well, if that's the case, then you know what folks... teach THAT to your kids from the time they're old enough to talk. Forget the concepts of compassion, respect, sportsmanship or fair play that supposedly, as an "advanced" society, we value so much (well, everywhere except in the arena of sports, apparently). Turn them all into "hardmen"–or let's face it, they're never going to get very far in the world.

    Oh, sorry, that idea seems distasteful to some out there? Well, like it or not, chances are pretty good that you're living that very idea, to some extent, in some way, and in some aspect of your life. And we're the ones preparing the coming generations for the world they will inherit (small shudder).

    So how, as a global community, ARE we going to define ourselves as the centuries wear on? Because if you think that we're only talking sports here... you're probably watching too much TV to take a good hard look at the world around us, gang.

    October 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  29. Shahe Donabedian

    I totally disagree with your last paragraph Mr. Baddoo, where by you were trying to sound funny comparing Football to Foosball and secondly saying that "a crunching tackle can still be a beautiful thing"... Is this how you see Nigel de Jong's tackle on Xabi Alonso? If that's the case, you are as unsporting as this animal so called Nigel de Jong. Very disappointing to hear that from someone in your position.

    October 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  30. Antonio Barbosa

    Football is a game of contact and hardmen will always be present either intentionally or not. Referees will not be able to always judge properly as they have to make decisions on the go.
    These type of issues should be handled at a later stage with the help of videos. Some of the hardmen put other players life at risk and when that happens whether on the football field or otherwise the law should take its won course. Otherwise hardmen will continue to do sometimes as directed by their coach.

    October 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  31. MH

    I felt disgusted with football when I saw a number of players tried their martial arts techniques on other players. I believe players acting tough should get jail sentences. After all, the crimes they committed were witnessed by the whole world.

    October 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  32. jamie

    I play football at a high level and I cannot watch football on tele anymore. The game has turned into a spectacle of what people can "get away with." This goes 2 ways: they dive in order to advance their way up the pitch and when they know they cannot get out of a tight situation. Also, they try to be dirty in hurting another player. There is a difference between dirty and hard and hard needs to be encouraged.

    Somehow, Rugby and Gaelic football in Ireland manage to find that balance effectively, why not football? I'm actually getting fed up with the professional game.

    October 10, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  33. Glenn

    Our World Sports Anchor is being disingenuous at best. All professional players know the types of tackles that can result in serious injury. They use these tackles because they are seen as effective by players and coaches. One need look no further than our last World Cup final where the Netherlands was clearly instructed by their coach to kick the Spaniards around the field–and it almost worked. After all, it's so much easier than actually learning how to play the game well.

    Excuses like I'm so sorry, I really didn't mean for that to happen read like a drunk who runs over a pedestrian. We no longer tolerate drunk driving, why should we tolerate other criminally cavalier behavior?

    But, hey, it's not my broken leg or ruined career.

    October 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  34. JoeOvercoat

    Muggings aren't sport. Anyone can brutalize, but only athletes can perform.

    October 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  35. lionel liew

    de jong did a good job for mancity,so sorry ben, de jong did'nt mean to put u out,he was seen patting on ur head while medic were attending on u this football u r paid to win for yr club

    October 10, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  36. Sergio

    I think the rules of the game adequately cover this situation. In the case of DeJong's tackle on Alonso in the WC final, red card and a multi-game suspension. What we need is referees who enforce the rules and many more post-game reviews by competent football authorities to determine other punishments for actions that clearly exceed the bounds of "hard but fair".

    October 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  37. Roland

    It's not a problem that one plays rough the problem is stupidity and doing things to hurt other players on purpose.
    Nigel de Jong makes dumb (dare i say criminal?) challenges in places he shouldn't and that serve no purpose.
    This year he's already broken several players legs and even players ribs (world cup final).
    And they all came from challenges that were just about showing who's boss with no chance of gaining control of the ball.
    With him it's all about showing who the tough guy is playing in the EPL.
    It's sad because i think Nigel de Jong can be a great defensive midfielder but he needs to be smarter where,when,and how he challenges.He will be back in Oranje eventually but I hope he takes the time to think about his play and drops this attitude.

    October 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  38. Rob

    First get rid of the dive artists that flop to the ground in agony at the slightest touch.

    October 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  39. Celestino Gonçalves

    I used to play football as amateur for many years. Not long ago and we had some disturbing guys in the fields, but they we minority. We used to play what players understood as "Art Football", or a kind of sport were you use your brain more than your foot. We still have some players like that in Brazil and around the world. But we can see that the mojority can be considered as medium players. We should consider the bahaviour of theses players in the arena and out of the arena. Great majority of them have a very disturbing bahaviour out of the fields either.

    October 10, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  40. Edward Sevume

    The question as I understand it is; do hardmen have a place on a fotball pitch?
    To me the answer is no!
    Where then do they belong?

    You guessed it – Wrestling!

    October 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  41. Diederik Hussein Manderfeld

    I hope Terry Baddoo gets tackled by Nigel de Jong after defending his assault on Alonso. I'm Dutch, but after seeing this, I was hoping Spain would win, and I'm still glad they did.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  42. Epic Jones

    know anything about kicking? he backed out of that kick when he knew hard contact was coming!!!! if anything, his decision to not follow it through showed restraint. This happens in sport, has for centuries. Unfortunately we now have monday morning quarterbacks that can hide behind internet blogs and critique everything from baby rabbits to the weather. Waste of bandwidth on this article.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  43. Majd

    What a tragic change of fortune for Dutch football. From the beautiful, highly technical display of skilled football during Cruyf's time, to the disgusting, dirty, offensive crap that De Jong and company are allowed to display. I think you can also win if you drug the opposing team, or if you kidnap the top players kids and blackmail the players to play poorly so no harm can come to their children. Hopefully this is the last that we will see of this disgraceful episode and Dutch football will return to its glory days.

    October 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  44. John Soloninka

    One word: Hockey...it perpetuates fighting because fans love it (just like MMA!!) Officials claim a desire to stop fighting but it is a lie: they could stop fighting in a heartbeat by expelling and fining players instantly who instigate (think Basketball or Baseball, or Football!!) But they don't...they'd lose tonnes of revenue.

    I think soccer/football leagues may understand what Hockey has known for years...and don't look for strong sanctions too soon.

    I, for one, would ban all fighting...If I wanted MMA I would watch that!

    October 10, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  45. Ali

    extremely offensive. But i think his tackle didn't have hard contact with Alonso chest (maybe at this view of picture we consider that). but also I think decision for doing these behavior are bad as the same as doing those. we can trust fair and seem it better than unsuitable behavior. Also the soccer is really colorful!

    October 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  46. hardy keefer

    Mr. Badoo, u have no idea about football...........ever thought about the fact that kids r trying to copy such kicks on weekends or training sessions? I see it at least 5 times a week as a coach in Germany, bad, bad examples.......

    October 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  47. Usman Shahid Rana

    I think he is Good Kick-Boxer playing Bad Football....
    Poor Alonso....

    October 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  48. ngancil

    there's a good tackle, there's a bad tackle, there r hard men & there r hard idiots in football, nigel de jong is one of those hard idiots, u said & i quote, "we have referees and governing bodies – to punish misdemeanors." yes they do exist, but that does not erase the fact that ben arfa has his leg broken, because of one idiot who doesn't know how 2 tackle the ball, & that does not erase the fact that ben arfa will waste at least 4 months+ of his career in the treatment facilities

    October 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  49. Ton de Bruijn

    Watched the world's game Holland vs Spain in my favorite wateringhole in the Netherlands and left in shame as a Dutchman right after de Jong's disgusting performance. This should stop!

    October 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  50. Chibuzo Eze

    Hard men still very much have a place in the sport...the official duty of hard men though is to break opposition play not break opposition players

    October 10, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  51. dutch flukers

    van bommel as well was brutal in that final. and btw, the dutch where whining all the time. robben is the biggest cry baby of them all. he choked. period. van persie was injured and could not perform in the wc. why? from a brutal tackle of course. despite their thuggery against a smaller team they could not win? what does say to you? not only it does not work, it ruins people's careers. the most effective defenders do not resort to intimidation with violence. they do that with skill. de jong and van bommel just compensate for the lack of it. the best defenders in fact are the ones who can also transition and initiate the offense. good thing the spanish had the mental toughness to focus and took the game to the dutch who were just hoping to get lucky for a counter attack or a mistake by the defense or hope for a draw to go to penalties. coward football to me. they were lucky with their draw and lucky against brazil. they did not deserve to be in the wc final in the first place. maybe holland can salvage their reputation by suspending de jong forever. who needs him? he had his shot. he blew it. it's as if there are no replacements for him.

    October 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  52. Paul Schreiber

    We can turn every sport into Rollerball. And sure, when we watch Nascar we are waiting for the wrecks. But top level sports players have dedicated years of effort that most of us have little understanding of, and can have their careers destroyed in seconds by so called hard men or police. For every top player in any sport, there are thousands who did not make the next step because of injury, many of them malicious. And there are 14 year-olds willing to imitate their favorite hard men on other 14 year-olds, so that they never get beyond that level of play. I have watched even accident collision injuries ruin basketball careers of college players on the bubble.

    All this macho crap about some sports being harder than soccer/football misses the point - and rugby is played with expectation of very specific tackles. Hell, wouldn't golf be more entertaining if we allow some contact? But it misses the point of what football is about.

    I never played football, but I know that the players give countless hours of their lives to play hard and in highly vulnerable situations to knees, ankles, hips, etc. To destroy their effort in order to please the Colosseum crowd for more violence loses the art of the sport and reduces it to tag-team "professional" wrestling.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  53. Ryan

    FIFA stands for Feigned Interest in Fairness and Altruism, and this is exactly the same self-interest that saw them humiliate themselves with their mishandling of the Thierry Henry handball incident last year. FIFA care about one thing and one thing alone: money. And since consistently it's the "skill" players that bring in more revenue for advertisers, through replica shirt sales etc., FIFA only wants this one kind of player in the game; everyone else is deemed unworthy because they're not as marketable. The robust player who makes what 25 years ago would have been a firm but fair tackle now finds himself branded a criminal for having the audacity to actually tackle the more marketable players who, more often than not, are soft as toothpaste.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  54. Kieran

    Pah! You can't honestly think that football is a contact sport. Rugby is a contact sport, american football is a contact sport, wrestling is a contact sport but not football.

    October 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  55. TAYLOR

    I think that the "predator" needs to miss as much game-time
    as the one who was injured...maybe even double that time.

    October 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  56. nonewts

    This is a friendly warning from an American. Don't allow even a small amount of tolerance for violence . Amercian sports have been turned into organized brawls.Don't allow the last beautiful game to go the way of America. Football (American, game where "good hits" equal
    "good games") and basketball (a game that once had finesse and grace) has become a gross shoving match. Baseball is sullied with drugs.
    Keep your football clean, graceful,and fair.

    October 10, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  57. Sergey

    True sport should have nothing to do with broken legs. In the case of this guy it is not first time for him, so it doesn't look like any coincedence. Sounds like the the guy is just some sort of killer to destroy other team players.

    October 11, 2010 at 12:07 am | Reply
  58. Derek

    There's a different between "contact" and willfully trying to injure another player.

    At the same time, all "divers" should be put on a reel at the end of the year and have it voted on by the folks who judge the Academy Awards...with the "winner" being given a seat on the bench for the next season.

    October 11, 2010 at 12:35 am | Reply
  59. Stewy

    Calling a foul deliberate or not is too black and white. It is more a question of risk. How much risk of hurting his opponent is a player taking when he goes for a tackle? That's the issue.

    And the problem at the moment is the incentive to be careful is too small. The result of a really bad tackle is a horrible injury for one player and a few games off for the other.

    Solution: ban the culprit for as long as his victim is out. 3 weeks out? 3 week ban. Out for the rest of the season? Banned for the rest of the season. That will make the 'hardmen' tackle with more care.

    October 11, 2010 at 1:04 am | Reply
  60. Stewy

    Btw Arjen, your comments are very typical of Rugby players. I've played both Rugby and Football and while Rugby undoubtedly has more contact, the contact in Football is nothing to be sniffed at.

    In fact, if you know your Rugby rules you'll know that kicking an opponent is very strongly penalised, regardless of the amount of injury inflicted. It is for a good reason; you can cause a lot of damage kicking someone. And you can do so while taking small risks on yourself.

    Injuries in Rugby which is otherwise a very violent game are limited by the fact that in order to stop an opponent you need to put yourself at risk. That is less the case in Football.

    October 11, 2010 at 2:09 am | Reply
  61. rob

    People who defend the use of hard tackles and players who "take out" the tricky players are playing the wrong game. We pay good money to see the likes of Ronaldo do their magic, not some thug trying to break a leg. There is a better sport for those idiots – MMA. I'd love to see the author watch his kids play and see some bully go in hard and take out their kid then rewrite this article. I've seen it, I've coached – it aint pretty.

    Soccer is a beautiful game – very different to Rugby which is far more physical and hey no problem – it's a great sport to watch too. But they are different. Thugs and coaches who encourage them should be banned. Imagine being a talented player losing your livelyhood because some thug physically attacks you but hides behind a hard "tackle"

    October 11, 2010 at 2:25 am | Reply
  62. Rambling Mind

    Hard men like... Claude Makelele, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira? Don't remember any broken legs there... well, except Roy Keane who did it on purpose.

    My point is, there are effective midfield enforcers who are hard men. They get their fair share of fouls and cards but they are not thugs and the game needs that. I reckon it's the managers' fault because they persist in using thugs like Joey Barton (who hasn't broken anyone's leg yet but is well on his way).

    Football is undeniably a contact sport, but is it not a concern that we're seeing more and more broken legs every season?

    October 11, 2010 at 2:44 am | Reply
  63. John

    Anyone who has played the game has known hard tackling players and wildmen (not "hardmen"). The wildmen, like De Jong, play out of control soccer. They leave the ground recklessly. They raise their boots, studs up, without thinking. They slide tackle from behind or, like in most of De Jong's crimes, like a freight train from the blind side. Worse than a sucker punch. Worse than a blind side tackle in football. Worse than a game-ending body check in ice hockey. De Jong is one of those players that every other player would rather have on his team than ever face on the pitch. Every time I have watched him play for club or for country he has looked completely out of control even when he is not fouling an opponent. He broke Stuart Holden's leg. Add the World Cup flying karate kick on Xabi and this break on Ben Afra. For all you who are defending this kind of play, put yourself in Holden or Ben Afra's shoes – imagine being a top flight player (or trying to be) and have your career set back 6 months or a year (maybe more). I think you would be singing a different tune. Like I said, if you have every come across a soccer wildman you always want him playing with you; never against you. Suspend him ( with no pay) for as long as his victims have been out and then see how he plays.

    October 11, 2010 at 3:44 am | Reply
  64. RugLeoCav

    Hardmen do have a place in the beautiful game, criminals don't..!

    October 11, 2010 at 8:57 am | Reply
  65. Alehandro

    I think the distinction has to be made between a hard man who tries to stay within the laws of the game and thug who repeatedly disregards the laws. Often it's all a matter of interpretation. Clearly de Jong's tackle on Alonso in the World Cup was ugly, and it's amazing that the ref kept his cards in his pocket. But many Manchester City fans saw the tackle on Ben Arfa differently from Newcastle fans and those jumping on the bandwagon. City fans saw a tenacious ball winner while de Jong haters saw a man with bad intention. It all depends on your bias. But when all said and done tackling is part of the game, a disappearing part thanks to all the floppers and card happy refs, but still a legitimate part of the game. De Jong gets it no more wrong than say, Paul Scholes of Man United, who can't time a tackle to save his life, but because of the consequences de Jong gets caned and Scholesy gets merely a shake of the head. An inch either way and the roles are reversed. It's that fine a line, which is why, as Terry said, it's down to the officials not the fans to judge who's crossed it.

    October 11, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  66. Richard

    De Jong is not a "hardman". He plays careless and dangerous at times, but his intentions never seem mean spirited. The way he plays is a problem, but it's a different problem than what the haters make of it. I think he is being demonized in an unfair way.

    October 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  67. giggs

    De Jong tackle was clean and fear part of the game

    October 12, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  68. D.M

    I'm a fan of the so-called "Hard Men". They do the dirty work that no one else is willing to do.. they put a lot of effort into the game, reaching high levels that are not very common'. Other thing about hard-men (in my humble opinion) is that most of them (at least the examples i have in Portugal) are all leaders! Three of my biggest references are Petit (former Benfica player), (and mostly) Jorge Costa and Bruno Alves (both former Porto captain's). Often criticized for their agressive methods, they remain as the type of player you wished you had on your side... they are very handy... but better yet... they are necessary!

    But now's the part where i will contradict myself...

    Even tough i appreciate this kind of players, i often think about those who suffer from these harsh "tactics". Players such as Ben Arfa who will be out of the game for a very long time, having to go through that stage where once physically recovered, still has to gain confidence and regain shape! And think about it? Is this as bad as it gets? No! Because they are examples all over the world of tackles that end careers! And over what? Basically it's like ending a man's life, because most of the football professionals are very young, with no education or other trades to practice! This is what they do... so if a miscalculation by De Jong or a "little payback on the pitch" can cause this sort of problems... well in that case i think measures should be taken! De Jong got it coming!

    October 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  69. David Saxon Jones

    There is a huge difference between "letting you opponant know you are there" and trying to break someones legs. I used t be a striker and then played centre back. My knickname was "Animal" and yes, i admit i would go in very hard if i had to and i would do what i could to intimidate my oponants and yes of course, i made the odd bad or unneccessary challenge. But in my defence, in the 70's and 80's you were allowed to. fortunately or unfortunately, football has turned from a mans game. a contact sport, a physical persuit to a game where you are nt even allowed to swear. The ironi is that with more pressure to win footballers are supposed to do it with less passion. No more hard tackles, no swearing, no questioning the refs decisions regardless of how ridiculous and you can't even take your shirt off to celebrate. You can't even question the ref after the game withought btinging the game into disrepute. Is football better today than it was in the golden era, no i don't think so. It's no worse either. it is just what it is. The only difference is now that it is easier to cheat and to feign injury without even being touched and we all hate cheaqting mre than we hate a bad tackle. Also, tell me this, is grabbing, holding, blocking and throwing your arms around a player at a set piece any better that a bad tackle, NO of course not, yet the like of Carragher and John Terry do nothing other than wrestle players to the ground on corners etc.

    October 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  70. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    There is room for gentlemanlike behaviour in football too. The Beautiful Game should be preserved for posterity as a sublime form of art of the past and present generations of mankind. Rough and unethical approaches of footballers and their coaches should not be tolerated or encouraged by fans, media and the football governing bodies.

    October 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Reply

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