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Nigel De Jong Faces Legal Action Over Hatem Ben Arfa Challenge

Is legal action the right way to go?

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Marseille are planning legal action against Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong over the tackle which broke Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg.
The France midfielder, who is on a season-long loan at Newcastle from the Mediterranean club, was ruled out for the bulk of that period after having his tibia and fibula broken by the Dutchman’s challenge last Sunday.
And Ben Arfa’s parent club have responded angrily, with president Jean-Claude Dassier telling French television programme Telefoot: “We will file a claim against De Jong. It’s about getting rid of this type of individual from European grounds.”
De Jong escaped sanction at the time but has since been dropped from the Holland squad as punishment, with coach Bert van Marwijk saying: “It was a wild and unnecessary offence. He went in much too hard.
“I have a problem with the way Nigel needlessly looks to push the limit. I am going to speak to him.”
Dassier also promised to offer support to the winger in his recovery, saying: “Ben Arfa asked our medical staff to help and we will do everything we can to help him, obviously.” (Press Association)

This is a tricky issue to deal with. It is of course not the first time that the idea of legal action being taken as a result of a reckless tackle and it will not be the last but nonetheless it is worth debating a vexed topic that tends to split public opinion.

When you start mixing the world of sport and the legal world you open up a whole can of worms. Don’t get me wrong the challenge Nigel De Jong made was pretty horrific but we have seen at least half a dozen others this season in the Premier League that were comparable or even worse, chiefly involving Wolves leg breaker Karl Henry, so if players start becoming the subject of lengthy legal battles each time they put in a bad tackle they could end up spending more time in court than on the pitch.

In my view the easiest way to cut down the violent aspects of the game is not to bring the legal profession into the equation and merely start using severe on field punishments. Lengthy bans or 6 or 7 games and perhaps mandatory fines for repeated offenders. Make player miss games and hit them in their pockets and maybe the likes of De Jong will cut back on unnecessary challenges.

The fear is that moving towards legal action may result in the game becoming a non contact sport and no one wants that. For instance you have to applaud Dutch coach Bert Marwick’s decision to drop the midfielder following his latest rash challenge and I can see that kind of move having a more sobering effect than the prospect of being sued which in some instances has been known to take years to achieve.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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