Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa (C) is carried off during their English Premier League soccer match against Manchester City in Manchester, northern England October 3, 2010. Ben Arfa was taken to hospital with a suspected fracture of his left leg after only four minutes of his team's Premier League match at Manchester City on Sunday. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Nigel de Jong's handiwork

Netherlands head coach Bert van Marwijk has dropped Nigel de Jong from his roster for upcoming Euro qualifying over the 25 year-old midfielder's chronic rough play. The latest broken leg left in de Jong's wake belongs to Newcastle forward Hartem Ben Arfa, and van Marwijk's decision comes as a direct response.

"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."

De Jong did not receive a caution for the tackle on Ben Arfa. He received only a yellow for his chest kick to Xabi Alonso in the World Cup Final. Numerous others vile tackles, including the one that put Stuart Holden out for months back in March have not been deemed vile enough for ejection by referees. Van Marwijk's is taking the law into his own hands, and "penalizing" de Jong where the game itself hasn't.

We can rightly applaud van Marwijk, though it's impossible to know if he is acting out of the indignation he has expressed or some ulterior motive of self-preservation. De Jong is certainly good enough to play for the Netherlands, and his omission makes them a lesser team; but by leaving him out, van Marwijk eliminates the risk that de Jong "does it again" and leaves the Dutch down a man in the game or facing further questions of a violent reputation formed during their World Cup campaign. Moldova and Sweden (Holland's two opponents in the games de Jong will miss) are hardly dangerous opponents for a top-ranked side, so there's little danger that leaving de Jong out will find the Dutch worse off for doing so.

"The right thing", which van Marwijk has done in this case, is a matter of perspective. It's impossible to separate the side de Jong plays for internationally from the sanction he's received; if the Dutchman wasn't Dutch, but English or American, how likely would a similar response be? If one of Bob Bradley's first choice players had run afoul of the spirit of the game with a series of ill-advised challenges, would we accept him dropping that player? Could we divorce ourselves of natural bias and call it "the right thing", especially if the player, like de Jong, had avoided major penalty (perhaps via nothing but luck)?

De Jong should not be allowed to play outside of the rules. But with those whose responsibility it is to enforce the rules failing to do so, perhaps the focus shouldn't be on a "menace" losing his spot, but on a system that continues to enable him. If de Jong is a repeat offender who regularly puts other players on the field at risk, shouldn't the record reflect that? If we're to believe de Jong's player profile at Soccernet, this "dangerous" player was dangerous enough to earn just one (1!) red card over the course of the last nine (9!) seasons. Van Marwijk blames the standard in England for de Jong not being carded on the Ben Arfa tackle. Apparently the standard in international play, the Bundesliga and yes, Holland, is not that much different.

I'll admit to a lack of knowledge on de Jong's reputation prior to this 2010 crime spree. Was he not the same player at Hamburg and Ajax that he is now? Did he lie in wait for the whole of his professional career, only to finally give in to his evil desire to break legs and kick Spaniards this year?  Did de Jong snap?

I apologize for the spate questions without requisite answers. De Jong is certainly guilty of things for which he should be punished, and so van Marwijk is right to leave him out of his team; but call me cynical if I don't see it changing a thing, either in the way de Jong plays or in the continued rash of dangerous tackles that have become a staple of the modern game.

As I've said before, tongue planted in my cheek, Die De Jong Die. Newscastle fans can surely relate. I'll try not to play the hypocrite should an American follow in de Jong's infamous footsteps. If the game is not going to properly policed on the field, then what van Marwijk did is better than nothing.
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