Dutch youth football linesman dies after attack
Dutch youth football linesman dies after attack
THE HAGUE, Netherlands: A Dutch linesman officiating in his son’s youth football match was beaten and kicked by several players after the game and died the next day.
Richard Nieuwenhuizen collapsed and was rushed to the hospital hours after players from Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten punched and kicked him. Nieuwenhuizen’s club, Buitenboys, said the 41-year-old linesman died Monday night but did not announce the exact cause of death.
“You can’t believe this could happen. That kids of 15 or 16 are playing football, you come to watch and see something like that,” Buitenboys club chairman Marcel Oost told national broadcaster NOS.
Three players, whose ages range from 15 to 16, were arrested earlier Monday for alleged involvement in the beating on Sunday in the town of Almere.
Dutch Sports Minister Edith Schippers told NOS even before the news of Nieuwenhuizen’s death that “it is absolutely terrible that something like this can happen on a Dutch sports field.”
Anton Binnenmars of the Royal Netherlands Football Association said he was shocked by such an act at a youth league match for children aged between 15 and 16 — one of thousands that take place on pitches across this football-obsessed nation of 16 million every weekend.
“It is too crazy for words that somebody involved in a sporting hobby becomes a victim of this kind of aggression,” he said in a statement.
Nieuwenhuizen had been officiating in a match in which one of his own sons was playing, NOS reported from Almere.
“He did it every week,” Oost said. “He enjoyed doing it. He was a real football man; he was always here.”
Parents and other volunteers regularly referee and officiate at sports matches involving their children in the Netherlands, where sports such as football and hockey are incredibly popular and well-organized for young players.
Police spokeswoman Leonie Bosselaar said shortly before the linesman’s death was announced that the players were still in custody and investigations were continuing. She added that police would not rule out arresting more suspects.
Nieuw Sloten said in a statement on its website it has banned the players involved and pulled their team out of the league.
The statement said such incidents “do not belong on a football field.”
Both clubs canceled all training scheduled for Monday.
The Dutch FA said all 42 of Nieuw Sloten’s matches for next weekend had been canceled at the club’s request.
The death came almost exactly a year after a Dutch amateur footballer fatally kicked a 77-year-old supporter following a match.
Amsterdam District Court last week sentenced the player, identified only as Silvester M. in line with Dutch privacy law, to three years imprisonment for kicking the supporter so hard in the chest that his spleen ruptured. He died of his injuries a month later.
The attack in Almere was even discussed at a news conference in Spain on the eve of Ajax’s Champions League match against Real Madrid.
“You can’t imagine it happening,” said Ajax coach Frank de Boer. “That boys of 15, 16 years short circuit like that. You wonder about the parenting.
“Something has to be done, because this is too ridiculous for words.”
Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal
- The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
- After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.
Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.