Two Scary Hours on a Football Pitch

Last Sunday something terrible happened on a Dutch football pitch.  After a match between two amateur, youth teams, three boys (two 15 year-olds and one 16 year-old) beat up the linesman of the other team. The linesman, 41 year-old Richard Nieuwenhuizen, suffered blows on his head and neck, causing severe brain damage. He passed away a day later.

Discussions now focus on ‘violence on the football field’. Let me be clear. I totally agree with almost all measures that have been and will be taken to address what happened this time and to (try to) prevent such things from happening again. This weekend, all amateur football matches in the Netherlands have been cancelled. Meetings are organised at many clubs to talk about what happened. This weekend, professional teams will be wearing black mourning bands and will observe a moment of silence before their games. It cannot get enough attention. Continue reading

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Football: Replace the 90 Minutes Official Time by 65 Minutes of Actual Playing Time

Which football supporter has not been irritated by it? Two football teams play each other. The one team (in my memory often an Italian one) is happy with the current score, the other is not. The former team tries to survive the rest of the game without conceding a goal. An effective strategy: don’t play at all. This is referred to as the practice of  running out the clock, stonewalling, killing the clock, stalling, time-wasting, or sandbagging. Continue reading

Ronald Koeman is Right

The past days, some commotion has been caused by Ronald Koeman, trainer of Feyenoord, who benched his player Kelvin Leerdam. Leerdam still has a contract with Feyenoord until the end of the (football) year, and refuses to sign another contract. Feyenoord thus risks losing him without receiving a sum of money. Koeman therefore decided to not let him play anymore for the first team, despite his qualities as a football player, which otherwise would have earned him a spot in the first squad.

Kelvin Leerdam (left) and Ronald Koeman (the other left)

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My First Holland-Germany

Every Dutch child, especially when it is a boy, is raised learning that the most important events in life matches are the football matches against our eastern neighbours, the Germans. For 90 minutes and a bit more, nothing else matters. The rivalry is intense. Historically, the tension has been building, with the Germans winning the European title in 1972, 1980, and 1996, and the World title in 1954, 1974, and 1990. This may already be a source of envy, given that Holland is the only team to have been in 3 World Cup finals but has never won. The German victory in 1974 was especially bitter. We had impressed the world with our Total Football, which still inspires teams like FC Barcelona with their tiki-taka playing style, had star players like Van Hanegem, Cruijff, and Neeskens – but it wasn’t enough. Continue reading