The attack on football linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen by a group of teenage players is not a ‘Moroccan problem’ but the responsibility of society as a whole, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.
It is the first time the prime minister has commented on the death of Nieuwenhuizen, who died after being punched and kicked by 15 and 16-year-old boys. Four youths are currently in police custody.
Although the ethnicity of the boys has not been officially mentioned, they are widely reported to be of Moroccan origin.
‘Violence on the football pitch is completely unacceptable,’ the NRC quoted the prime minister as saying during his weekly press conference. ‘We have to make it clear that we will not tolerate it.’
At the same time, ‘we must never close our eyes to the ethnic origins of the perpetrators,’ the prime minister said. ‘But this is a sport-related problem. The key is violence on the pitch. And at the same time, this is a problem for all society.’
Project X Haren
Violence in sport is ‘more common than we think’, Rutte said. It is violence which can be ‘committed by people of Moroccan origin and people with Dutch origins,’ he said.
As examples of Dutch-initiated violence, Rutte mentioned football hooligans and the Project X Haren riots in which gangs of white youths went on the rampage, the Volkskrant reported.
The prime minister called on amateur sports organisations to work together to ensure a safe environment. This is the responsibility of parents, sports clubs, schools and the football association,’ he said.
‘The government cannot solve this. You cannot turn the Netherlands into a police state,’ the Volkskrant quoted him as saying. ‘The government can take a stand and bring different groups together but no plan of campaign is going to solve this. A plan of campaign only works if everyone takes responsibility.’
Achmed Baadoud, chairman of Amsterdam borough council Nieuw West where the boys live, told free newspaper Metro bad parenting is to blame for the violence in amateur football.
‘Many parents tell me they were hit at home and they don’t know how to punish their own children,’ Baadoud told the paper.
Earlier, former Dutch international Johan Cruijff told Nos television parents are largely to blame for football-related violence.
‘If you look at the way some parents behave during matches for children aged six to 11, it is a complete scandal,’ Cruijff said. ‘You need to start by instilling standards, and removing parents [who cause trouble],’ he said.
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