ANR replies : 4 views on the World Cup Final

From Gus Andersen   : Both Dutch and Spaniards disgraced the final

The Dutch are to blame for such a dire final, with their intentions to kick the Spaniards off the pitch, very much like physical teams kicking Arsenal when they can’t match their level of play.

What made it difficult to support Spain, despite their superior footballing qualities, is their need to embellish (dive, play-act) every time they were tackled. There were quite a few violent tackles against the Spaniards but the rest of the fouls suffered were over exaggerated to gain an advantage, which I felt was unnecessary because Spain did not need to resort to such antics in order to win. Much the same question I have as to why Maradona needed to cheat with his Hand of God when he was such a talent already?

Sometimes, it’s easy to point out the cheaters who are outclassed and would be expected to cheat. However, a lot of people overlook Spain’s antics because they deserved to win. Being the best team in the tournament does not absolve them from cheating.

Spain’s offence is minor in comparison to the Dutch’s thuggery, but do not paint the Spaniards as saints and the Dutch as evil.

The lesser of two evils won and on the poor footballing on display in the finals, the match deserved to go to penalties which would have left it to chance as to who the winner is.

Most people only care about the final result, but perhaps we should also be critical how they get there. I have a feeling that within the Latin world play-acting is not considered cheating, but as an art.



From Raffi


Love the headline! Say it how it is…So true! Thank God, Spain won for the sake of the game we love. I just hope that the likes of Holland does not influence the likes of Blackburn, Stoke and Birmingham in thinking that this is how to play. Funny how Holland gets derided for their tactics whilst the above mentioned teams get respect from the Sky and the gutter press when they play Arsenal.



From Mark : I hold my hands up – thugs, indeed

Myles – I was the one who wrote in days ago questioning your labeling the Dutch as ‘thugs’ and quoting Martin Rogers of Yahoo.

I do stand by my views of that match, as I thought that Dunga’s Brazil were just as intent on “anti-football”.   My feeling that Brazil would eventually have a man sent off was not based on their tackling but on their unhinged reactions to the referee in response to the Dutch approach.

But the final.  My God.  The Dutch deserve every bit of opprobrium they receive. And lest you worry about any negative reaction from your harsh words about their conduct, let me say that I fully agree with you.

Their behaviour was nothing short of despicable, and their constant post-match whinging about Howard Webb is hypocritical, self-serving, and cowardly.

They’ve ruined every positive feeling I’ve had about Dutch football – going all the way back to the 1970s when I witnessed Cruyff and Co. destroy FC Utrecht in a league match 5-2 that was one of my great memories as a sports spectator (only Magic Johnson & the Lakers, after I moved to L.A., inspired me to similar heights).

In any case, don’t worry.   And don’t necessarily be loyal only to those readers who agree with you.   All of us who read you, well, we read you for a reason.   You’re interesting.   Keep up your strong opinions.   You’ll occasionally receive strong replies, but that’s part and parcel of the internet.   Only the thick-skinned survive.


From Steve Nash


Great article. Couldn’t agree more. The Dutch let themselves down with their performance, and disgraced one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

They were rightly condemned as thugs and as playing anti-football.

Yet, if the Spanish had been wearing Arsenal shirts, and the Dutch Bolton shirts, I am sure that we would have been hearing the same, “They don’t like it up ’em” taunts about the Arsenal/Spanish, and that Bolton/Holland were just being physical and “getting into them early”.

If this sort of thuggery is to be condemned, it needs to be condemned at every level, not just in a World Cup Final.



Myles replies : Two points

I’ve realised something since Sunday. I watch so many La Liga games on Sunday nights, and have done since the season Rivaldo played for Deportivo  La Coruna, before Barcelona signed him, that I don’t really  notice the diving and play-acting. I’ve become so accustomed to it that I don’t see it or think about it. That affected what I wrote about Sunday’s final.

When Johan Cruyff slaughters Holland, it has to be bad.

Cruyff was Holland’s greatest player and their most infuential coach and he  said his compatriots played anti-football.

“Regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage.

“This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style, yes it served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing. They were playing anti-football.”

Cruyff said referee Howard Webb should have punished the Dutch more severely.

“A World Cup final deserves great refereeing and, above all, deserves a referee who dares to do everything it means to be a judge.”