While ice hockey has seen its fair share of court cases related to on-ice incidents over the years, it’s very rare that an on-pitch soccer happening has been dealt with legally.
However, that may all change soon as French club Marseille has threatened Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong with legal action after the Dutch international broke Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg with a brutal tackle in a recent English Premier League game against Newcastle United.
Ben Arfa was playing for Newcastle as he’s on a season-long loan deal with them from Marseille. Ben Arfa is now expected to be sidelined for quite some time as the tackle ended up breaking two bones in his left leg. The 24-year-old Ben Arfa was playing in just his fourth match for Newcastle.
There’s been a rash of dirty challenges in the EPL this season and Marseille’s president Jean-Claude Dassier said his club is going to file a legal claim against De Jong and added players like him need to be eliminated from European soccer.
Unbelivably, de Jong wasn’t booked for the tackle and the referee didn’t even give a free kick for it during City’s 2-1 home win on Oct. 3. After the tackle, the Dutch national team dropped De Jong from its squad for the nation’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Moldova on Oct. 8 and Sweden on Oct. 12. Holland manager Bert van Marwijk defended the exclusion of De Jong and called his tackle unnecessary and wild.
Of course, Marwijk knows all about the 25-year-old De Jong as the player was lucky to escape with just a yellow card in this summer’s World Cup Final against Spain after landing a kung-fu kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso. English referee Howard Webb admitted later that he should have sent De Jong off with a red card.
After the tackle on Ben Arfa, Newcastle wrote a letter to the English Football Association asking it to reprimand De Jong for the tackle. However, the FA claimed it doesn’t have the power to hand out any punishment.
The challenge by De Jong hasn’t been the only one in the news lately as there have been several horrendous tackles in the EPL so far this season. Wolverhampton captain Karl Henry received a red card the same weekend for an equally horrific tackle on Jordi Gomez of Wigan. Henry apologized to Gomez and fans after viewing the incident on television replays. He was also involved in an incident with Bobby Zamora of Fulham in which Zamora’s leg was broken in September.
De Jong and his Manchester City teammates are back in action against Blackpool on Oct. 17th. Wager on Sports has the odds of a City win at 4/7 with a Blackpool win at 97/20 and the odds of a draw listed at 14/5.