City are 'under siege' over De Jong tackle

Manchester City officials were angry last night that Newcastle United had written to the Football Association complaining about Nigel de Jong's leg-breaking tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa, claiming that the two clubs' staff met amicably after the match on Sunday when no reservations were raised by Newcastle over the incident.

City believe that Newcastle have only acted in the last 24 hours as outrage has grown over the challenge on Ben Arfa, who will miss the rest of the season with a broken left tibia and fibula. Privately they say that Roberto Mancini's assistants Brian Kidd and David Platt had drinks with Newcastle staff on Sunday evening and did not complain about De Jong's tackle.

Having learnt the severity of Ben Arfa's injury on Monday, Newcastle yesterday took the step of announcing they had written a "strongly worded letter" to the FA asking it to take the "appropriate action" against De Jong. The saga now has a momentum of its own, with Jose Enrique, Johan Cruyff and Samir Nasri among those yesterday condemning the tackle that has prompted the Netherlands coach, Bert van Marwijk, to drop De Jong from his squad.

City feel "under siege" according to one club source and believe that Newcastle's letter to the FA has been sent in order to maximise the strength of public feeling currently running against De Jong. Newcastle described the tackle as "unnecessary" and using "excessive force".

As far as the FA is concerned there is no further action that can be taken against De Jong because the match referee Martin Atkinson witnessed the incident and, in his view, dealt with it at the time. The official, who also made questionable decisions on two penalty claims, is likely to be dropped from this weekend's match list.

The FA is bound by Fifa's rules which stipulate that retrospective punishments are reserved for off-the-ball incidents that were not witnessed by the referee. Only on very limited occasions can the FA act retrospectively. It needed special leave from Fifa to punish Ben Thatcher for his elbow on Pedro Mendes in August 2006 after Greater Manchester Police threatened to charge the player.

Mancini said that he "wholeheartedly" supported De Jong. He said: "I wish to say that whilst he is naturally competitive, Nigel is first and foremost a great player as well as being honest and loyal. I also want to take this opportunity to wish Ben Arfa, who I rate very highly, a speedy recovery and I hope to see him back in action soon."

The Newcastle defender Enrique called upon the FA to ban De Jong until Ben Arfa had recovered from his injury and accused it of bias against non-English players. He said: "De Jong shouldn't be allowed to play football. His tackle was criminal. He injured another player [Stuart Holden at Bolton] last season. If it was Rooney who was injured instead of Ben Arfa, they would make an example of him. I think it's very good that the Holland coach has left him out of the squad. But Newcastle have been left with just two wingers until the January transfer window. It's hurt us. The referee was the worst I have seen. He didn't even give a foul. De Jong is one of those players who walks a tightrope every time he plays. As far as I know, he didn't even come to say sorry after the match."

Johan Cruyff, the Netherlands' most famous former player, said that he supported Van Marwijk's decision. "He [De Jong] has crossed the line two or three times now," Cruyff said. "He needs to understand he is an example to all the young players and I think it is a very good decision."

Ben Arfa's France team-mate Samir Nasri, with whom he played at Marseilles, said English referees did not give players enough protection. "What strikes me is the refereeing. The referee saw Hatem exit on a stretcher with an oxygen mask, yet he didn't punish de Jong. It's that which has to change in England," Nasri said.

"Nigel de Jong has pedigree, a bit like [Mark] van Bommel. Referees should know that these players make foul tackles. With the exception of when [Joey] Barton tried to hack me down, players are not 'evil'. There have always been accidents – but are we protected enough in England? I don't think so."

The De Jong debate

What they said yesterday:

Roberto Mancini: 'While he is naturally competitive, Nigel is first and foremost a great player.'

Enrique: 'De Jong shouldn't be allowed to play football. His tackle was criminal.'

Johan Cruyff: 'He has crossed the line two or three times. He must understand he is an example to young players.'

Samir Nasri: 'The referee saw Ben Arfa exit on a stretcher yet he didn't punish De Jong.'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before