The record number of yellow cards in Sunday’s World Cup final was not the fault of the Netherlands – but Fifa.
The claim has come from Oranje midfielder Nigel de Jong.
He was lucky not to be sent off against Spain for a chest-high lunge at Xabi Alonso. It was typical of the Netherlands’ first-half approach, which led to them being branded “Dirty Dutch” and “The Clogs of War”.
De Jong defended referee Howard Webb’s handling of the game, but said that by taking the physicality out of the sport, Fifa had left officials high and dry.
“Nowadays the pressure on the referees is so big,” De Jong said. “There are so many rules from FIFA telling them what to do. It would be easier if they could concentrate on the basics and referee the game. Maybe I am a little bit old school. But when you see how football used to be, there were worse fouls then and no-one even whistled.It is part of the game. Now FIFA come out with all those rules and the game is not exciting for the players anymore. Let football stay as football.”