The first blow-back against Nigel de Jong has come from an unexpected source, one which had underwritten some of the midfielder’s previous, aggressive behavior.
After breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg on Sunday, de Jong has been dropped by Netherlands’ coach Bert van Marwijk from the nation’s upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Van Marwijk, the same coach who orchestrated a Netherlands World Cup final performance that set a record for most bookings by a team in a final, has said, in a statement released by the Royal Dutch FA, he felt he had “no alternative” than to cut de Jong.
The Netherlands face Moldova on Friday before returning home for next week’s match with group-leading Sweden, but van Marwijk’s actions raise a number of questions, particularly given de Jong’s previous two high-profile incidents have come while wearing the Oranje.
In March, de Jong broke Stuart Holden’s leg in a tackle that was arguably as bad as the one on Ben Arfa. At the time, the Netherlands was silent, and when Xabi Alonso took an elevated kick to his sternum, the Dutch team defended the approach enveloping the blow.
Now de Jong is being punished – being punished for something that didn’t occur under the Dutch FA’s watch, and while today’s a difficult day to take up de Jong’s cause, it’s not hard to see van Marwijk’s decision as curious.