Monday, July 12, 2010
The Soccer Wars
Holland, the dirtiest team to never win the World Cup.
It was clear what was going on. It was a coaching decision by the Dutchies to break up the Spanish verve by physical brutality. And it worked. By the second half many of the Spanish passes in the midfield were hurried and off target, giveaways they would never had made but for fear of injury. That's not to say they were cowards, but when you have a million euro professional salary there are limits to what you will sacrifice for your country in sport. And the Dutch coach, van Marwijk, knew his man in Webb. Those first two Spanish yellow cards were laughable equalizers for the much more serious Dutch misdemeanours that preceded them in turn.
Von Bommell was disgusting, a devil in orange. De Jong's foul on Alonso will be replayed for years and every controversial red card to come will be compared to the yellow he got.
After the match van Marwijk insisted his players stayed within the law. "It is not our style to commit horrible fouls, it is not our kind of football," he pleaded. He's obviously picking up where Tony Blair left off on Iraq's possession of WMD.
It would have been a scandal if the Dutch had won, but they played with such calculated violence it was a scandal they were there at all. Their defeat looks good on them.
Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP