This week Youp van ‘t Hek was cheered by the sight of a tumbling politician and saddened by the death of linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen
So disgraced junior minister Co Verdaas was part owner of a pal’s house in Nijmegen. Well, he owned 1%, which according to my calculations comes down to owning the wash basin in the toilet. All that just to fiddle his expense account. Pathetic.
How did he get home after he resigned, I wonder? What are the rules in cases like this? Did the private chauffeur take him one last time or did he have to stand around on a cold platform at the Hague station freezing his balls off? I hope, of course, it was the latter.
Would he put the train ticket on expenses? And was it a single to Zwolle or to Nijmegen? Co Verdaas: a sad, provincial wannabe who took a step up the ladder and then tumbled down like a clown. Will you be wanting the receipt? I would ask him if I were his grocer. Verdaas: the sort of person who will find a way to deduct his Sinterklaas expenses.
Co cheered me up. So did the interview with Amarantis boss Bert Molenkamp in Het Parool. Molenkamp had brought a reputation expert? A what? A reputation expert.
Bert talked mainly about Bert. How Bert had sold some school real estate and made a €600,000 profit, how Bert had negotiated a big financial settlement for Bert, how Bert asked a pal for advice etc.
Bert threatened to go to court and I hope he does. It will no doubt lift the lid on other unsavoury dealings by Bert. My advice to Bert would be to go to Bonaire and buy a house next door to former Vestia boss Staal. He’s an expert on greed and could teach Bert a thing or two about getting your hands on public money.
All jolly cheerful news. And I could do with cheering up and so could the rest of the country. Because the death of Richard Nieuwenhuizen, the father of three sons who was kicked to death by a couple of adolescent boys, has hit us all hard.
Confusion reigns. Is that confusion justified? Yes and no. Yes, because this is, of course, total and incomprehensible madness. A man dies after an equaliser between two amateur junior league teams. A father is murdered while his son is looking on. Murdered because of a game of footie.
No, because we have known about what happens around the football pitches for years. Idiot parents, frustrated coaches, adrenaline charged players. Every Monday morning the papers explode with news about mass fights, crazed fans and abandoned games. Total mayhem, all over a game of football. And every week I think: one day someone is going to get killed. And then everyone will be surprised.
This week there will be no amateur league games. It’s a time for contemplating and, above all, educating. Richard Nieuwenhuizen will be cremated on Monday. The media will be there. Thousands of cameras will be filming this sad occasion and thousands of pens will describe it. Everyone will say it is too much. And next week, football will be different. It will be kinder, friendlier. And the week after that too. Perhaps.
And then? Then the world will have come to an end, that is if the Maya calendar is anything to go by. Civilisation as we know it will end with a linesman kicked to death by a couple of kids. A symbolic ending.
But if the world happens to carry on, then what? Will sportsmanship be back to stay? Will we behave like normal human beings? I propose that for the next few years linesmen all over the world use flags that are at half-mast. As a reminder of the death of a nice dad from Almere. As a reminder of the times when people went completely mad on a football pitch. How far did it go? All the way to the cemetery. It’s enough to make you cry your eyes out.
Youp van ‘t Hek is on of the Netherlands’ best loved comedians and writers