THE HAGUE, The Netherlands – Three teenage footballers are facing manslaughter charges for allegedly beating a Dutch linesman to death, the public prosecutor said Tuesday, December 4, with the football-mad Netherlands reeling from the shock of the brutal killing.
Dutch professional matches are to hold a minute’s silence and players will wear black armbands, while all 33,000 of this weekend’s amateur matches have been cancelled after Monday’s death, the Dutch football federation KNVB said.
Police have not excluded further arrests after three players with Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten were arrested for the killing of Richard Nieuwenhuizen, 41.
He was taken to hospital hours after the beating that followed the final whistle in Sunday’s match against neighboring Almere’s Buitenboys.
“Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old from Amsterdam under suspicion of seriously assaulting a 41-year-old linesman of the Buitenboys from Almere will on Thursday appear before a judge at the Almere court,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“The suspects will appear on charges of manslaughter, assault and public violence,” a statement read.
The judge will decide whether to keep the three youths in detention in Amsterdam.
Nieuw Sloten’s B1 team had already been warned by the club after players insulted another referee earlier in the season, Dutch media reported.
“This isn’t something that happens just like that, this is behaviour, there are norms and values that are lacking,” Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten told Dutch public television.
“You can’t see something like this as an isolated incident, if something like this happens, then something isn’t right,” he said.
The alleged attackers must be dealt with “firmly”, he said.
Bernard Fransen, president of KNVB amateur football, told a press conference that he was “very shocked”.
“Amateur football matches will be cancelled this weekend and a minute’s silence will be observed during professional football matches,” he said.
The cancellations will affect 33,000 matches and 800,000 players in the football-mad country of 16.5 million, according to public broadcaster NOS.
But Fransen’s deputy Anton Binnenmars called on clubs nevertheless to remain open over the weekend to “speak about what must and can be done to prevent this happening again.”
“We must look in the mirror and think about solutions to ensure together that this has happened for the very last time,” Binnenmars said.
The KNVB said that 74 people received life bans for bad conduct on the pitch in 2011.
A silent march will be held in Almere on Sunday afternoon in memory of Nieuwenhuizen, whose own son was playing in the match, according to Dutch media reports.
The president of the game’s world governing body FIFA, Sepp Blatter, on Tuesday wrote to the KNVB to express his condolences.
“Football is a mirror of society and sadly, the same ills that afflict society — in this case violence — also manifest themselves in our game,” he said in the letter, according to a statement on fifa.com.
“Nevertheless, I remain convinced that football — through the example set by the tireless efforts of people like Mr Nieuwenhuizen — is a force for good, and we must continue to use its positive example to educate people against these wrongs.” – Charles Onians, Agence France-Presse