Oh dear.
Some orange people aren’t very happy.

It seems that they weren’t the ones who won the World Cup last night and they think it’s the referee’s fault.
I don’t agree – they were rubbish and they deserved to lose – but let’s let them have their say.

Arjen Robben, for example:

We sat there in the dressing room and only talked about some of the refereeing decisions.
There were a few things which were hard to take, but there is no point talking about them now.

I can see why Robben was incensed. He made a HUGE error seven minutes from the end of normal time by inexplicably staying on his feet when Carles Puyol appeared to hold him back.
Robben’s decision was inexplicable for two reasons: firstly, that if he had gone down, Puyol would have been sent off, but moreover secondly, that he actually appeared to know how to stay on his feet.
Quite why it took him until 7 minutes before the end of the final game of the tournament to realise he had this ability is another question completely. But football365 agrees with me:

Had Robben gone to ground on the edge of the box when Puyol reached an arm out, Holland could have had a free-kick and Spain could have been reduced to ten. As it was the status quo was retained, and Robben’s complaints deservedly fell on deaf ears. The man goes over so easily, how does he expect to receive decisions when he stays on his feet? Surely a referee can only assume the challenge was incredibly light.
He made the kind of protest that is only made because things didn’t go his way. Imagine if Howard Webb did stop the play before he reached Casillas. He’d have been furious to have been stopped in his tracks. If you let the play go, allowing the advantage, you can’t then come back and send Puyol off. The advantage was allowed, Robben didn’t capitalise. End of story.

But anyway, as Arjen correctly states, there’s no point talking about it now. Although he is.
And so am I. And so is Arjen’s mate, Nigel.

Yep, Dutch number 8 Nigel de Jong was also unhappy, because he felt that the major calls went the Spaniards’ way:

There were a few curious decisions in the game, but that is football.
Football is football, maybe I am a little old school, but I remember the games back in the days when there were worse fouls which never even got booked.

Hang on, Nigel – are you saying worse fouls than this? [youtube]

Because if you are, I’m struggling to recall at what point in the “old school” of football this sort of thing went unpunished. Perhaps you’re getting it confused with the old school of Tae Kwon Do, in which “one point is scored for an effective attack to the trunk“. Or perhaps you’re just looking for a scapegoat.
Let’s bring in the  impartial football365 again:

Dutch fans who feel they have been hard done by should hold their tongues, frankly. I thought Howard Webb’s biggest two mistakes were not sending off players bedecked in orange. Nigel de Jong’s almost neck high, straight-legged assault on Xabi Alonso was nothing short of a red card. There is dangerous play, and there are tackles which you know when you commit them are capable of seriously injuring someone. This was in the latter category, and should have resulted in Holland being down to ten a long, long time before the game’s conclusion.

But if Webb sends him off then the Dutch are down to 10 men for most of the game and the match as a spectacle is ruined.
And who gets the blame for that? Well, Howard Webb, of course. It’s a classic no-win situation. Which Spain won.

The Dutch certainly didn’t hold back with their challenges and they can have no complaints with the number of yellow cards (and the one red) they received. But of course, in any big game, emotions run high and games don’t come any bigger than this. And when your own frailties are exposed and you let yourselves, your country and your fans down, then you’re bound to say some things you might regret later.
Blaming the referee conveniently deflects the attention away from a poor Dutch effort and attempts to trivialise their approach to the game, which was nothing short of thuggish. World Cup finals are rarely pretty – there’s too much at stake (compare and contrast the free flowing football of the “no pressure” third place game the previous evening) – but this one was at least full of incident.

That the Oranje caused most of that incident and then tried to blame it all away on the referee is a disgrace.

UPDATE: Not overly dramatic from Kevin McCarra in the Guardian.

Holland were already being rebuked prior to the final but these events were on a wholly different scale and Fifa should take additional action considering the harm done to the culmination of a tournament that means so much around the globe.
After a World Cup final of so toxic a nature the stadium is in need of decontamination more than the regular clean-up.

And some good stuff from Richard Williams in the same place.

UPDATE 2: And the more I read that football365 post, the better it gets.

7 thoughts on “Scapegoat

  1. Robben can have no complaints. He had two opportunities to put Spain on the back foot, and he arsed them both up splendidly.

    I don’t care how tense World Cup finals get, last night’s display by the Dutch players was horrible. The way they played was disgraceful. They way they gave Webb uphill after Iniesta’s goal was even more disgraceful. They can all knob off back to their country now, thank you very much.

  2. Well written article and well pointed out. I do however think that Spain was the better team on the field. Hats of to them for staging a comeback after losing their first group match against Switerland in the first round and for winning the FIFA World Cup for the first time since their first appearance in 1934. I’m glad it wasn’t Brazil’s 6th title this year.

  3. As a bitterly disappointed Oranje supporter my thoughts are as follows. I think the criticism of the Dutch approach (thuggish!) is off the mark. The decision to play a more pragmatic brand of footie saw them go further in a SWC than most expected. In the final, they knew that the only way to counter the Spanish masters was to defend like crazy and try and catch Spain on the break. Part of this approach was to hassle, foul and wind up the Spanish at every chance. The fact that Holland were level for almost all of the game is testimony to the effectiveness of this approach and their defensive skills. That Spain managed to squeeze out a victory says even more about their abilities – they are truly a brilliant team with stars in every position. I think Spain are deserved champions and it is probably justice that Robben made a hash of such clear goal scoring opportunities so that the team playing more attactive and skillfull football could prevail. I agree that the ref had a good game – in general I think he was fair and accurate and got the balance just right in yellow carding early but not reducing the game to a 10 v 9 contest. Holland certainly can’t blame their loss on him although that is the natural reaction in such an incident filled game. A flowing advert for football it wasn’t but it made for riveting viewing in my opinion.

  4. You’ve taught Webb well 6000, under the circumstances he had a good game, and tried to keep everyone on the park to the end of the game. The Dutch were overly physical, as they have been for the whole tournament in my opinion. The picture says it all.

  5. i am an orange supporter, and i am a complete novice to football spectating (is that a word?), and even i could see that the dutch were playing dirty and badly, and that the spanish deserved to win.

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