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Dead linesman indicates violence in Dutch soccer

Updated: 2012-12-07 14:47
( Xinhua)

Dead linesman indicates violence in Dutch soccer

Members of the soccer club Buitenboys are briefed by board members regarding the death of a linesman at the center of the pitch in Almere, on Dec 4, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

HAGUE - The violent death of a Dutch linesman earlier this week has not only showed a problem of senseless violence in Dutch soccer, but also indicated a problem in the wider Dutch society, politicians have said.

Last Sunday, 41-year-old Richard Nieuwenhuizen, who was a linesman from the home side during an Under 17 youth match, was violently assaulted by at least three members of the visiting team. He died of severe brain damage one day later.

The three suspects, two boys of fifteen and one of sixteen years old, were arrested on Sunday night and are now in custody awaiting further juridical steps. They are suspected of manslaughter, assault and public violence.

The incident has caused a shock in the soccer world, but also in the wider Dutch society.

Tjeerd van Dekken, sports spokesman of the Labor Party PvdA, said he, like the rest of the Dutch people, was stunned by the violent death of the volunteer.

"This is a blow to the entire society. Unfortunately it is not an incident. There is much senseless violence in the Netherlands, not only on the sports fields, but also in the nightlife for example," he told Xinhua.

"The core of the problem is difficult to interpret," van Dekken added. "But it has to do with a general degeneration of society, a street culture, lack of education, lack of guidance by parents, lack of standards and values. The situation gets out of hand. We must act now."

Matthijs Huizing, sports spokesman of the Liberal party VVD, agreed with his fellow parliament member.

"It is clear that it is a wider problem than just in football," he told Xinhua. "Every year, nearly a thousand incidents of violence are reported in soccer, except those that have not been reported. But violence is not something that occurs only in football. This also happens on the street."

Geert Wilders, leader of the populist right-wing Party of Freedom PVV, known for its anti-Islamic views, went a step further by pointing his finger at a "Moroccan problem".

He focused on the origin of the suspects, two of whom are of Moroccan origin, and one of Antillean descent.

Dead linesman indicates violence in Dutch soccer

A young player of the soccer club Buitenboys practises at the clubhouse in Almere, Dec 4, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Van Dekken disagreed. He said the conclusion of the PVV was not the right one. "Also, it is far too premature," he said. "The victim is not even buried. It's too early for such a debate."

Van Dekken said some top soccer players should share the blame. "Some footballers are setting bad examples," he said. "What you see sometimes are the most disgusting tackles or acts of violence. Also assaulting referees is part of this violence."

The incident of last weekend was certainly not the first act of violence in Dutch sports. In December last year, a 77-year-old spectator was kicked so hard by a player during an amateur match that he later died from his injuries.

In response to the violence the Dutch government launched an action plan in April 2011 to get a safer sport climate by imposing harder punishments for verbal abuse, threats and harassment of referees, as well as fights, discriminatory chants, alcohol abuse and sexual harassment.

"On Dec 17, the plan will also be discussed during the budget debate. A lot of political will is needed to avoid excesses, " van Dekken said.

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