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Jul 14, 2010 | World Cup 2010

Dutch legend Johan Cruyff criticises Netherlands' 'anti-football'


Netherlands' World Cup 2010 display was not to everyone's liking, not least Johan Cruyff, who branded it "anti-football".

Cruyff was part of the Dutch team in 1974 that introduced 'total football' to the world, but that vibrant attacking approach was far from the case on Sunday as a robust Netherlands team lost 1-0 to Spain.

Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt were the Oranje's only outfield players in their starting 11 not to be booked by referee Howard Webb, while Johnny Heitinga saw red in extra-time for a second bookable offence as the Dutch abandoned the philosophy synonymous with Cruyff's name.

Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel were also lucky to stay on the field with the Manchester City midfielder, in particular, fortunate to see out the tie after an horrendous kung-fu style kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso.

"Regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, they made two ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage," he wrote in his column in El Periodico de Catalunya.

"This ugly, vulgar, hard, hardly eye-catching, lack of football style served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing.

"Some practiced anti-football considering that it was the only way to survive. It finished 0-0 [after 90 minutes] because they [Spain] could not play as they wanted."

Cruyff was also critical of referee Webb for not adhering to the rules of the game, which would have seen at least two Dutch players sent off, claiming that the English official invented his own interpretation of the rules.

"You can referee badly, but what you cannot do is create your own type of justice and, worse, invent a personal application of the rules," Cruyff declared.

"Not only did he fail to expel two Dutchmen, including Robben who deserved the second yellow, he also looked the other way at times in which he had to get involved. A World Cup final deserves a big referee, but above all, it deserves a referee who dares to do everything it means to be judge."

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