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Belgians in uproar over ankle-crunching tackle

Anderlecht player Axel Witsel became public enemy number one here Monday a day after putting Standard Liege’s Marcin Wasilewski in hospital with a broken ankle and facing a year out of football.

Wasilewski, 29, underwent an operation after the 1-1 league draw on Sunday to reduce the fracture but, with an injury similar to the horrific one suffered by Arsenal’s Eduardo in February 2008, he is expected to go under the knife again next week.

His club Standard, the defending league champions from the French-speaking city of Liege, said the defender could be out for a year meaning he will miss the World Cup finals if Poland manage to qualify.

Witsel meanwhile was put through the wringer by the country’s press, which is believed to be partly because he is considered a great hope for the future having won the Golden Boot trophy for the best player in the Belgian championship in 2008.

Flemish-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws was one of several that put the story on their front pages, calling Witsel’s challenge an “absolute disgrace”, while French language paper Le Soir called Witsel’s gesture a “moment of madness”.

Witsel quickly apologised for the horror tackle but the 20-year-old Belgian international was shunned by some of his teammates and the club’s sponsor was so shocked it released a statement hitting out at the player.

Witsel will appear at a disciplinary hearing at the Belgian football federation (URBSFA) on Tuesday and is expected to be handed a lengthy ban.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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