If Dutch Bible Belt amateur side FC Spakenburg make it to the Dutch cup final, they won’t be able to play on Sunday as planned for religious reasons, the club’s chairman has said.
Spakenburg trounced premier league club Utrecht on Tuesday to reach the semi-finals and that has pushed the club’s religious sensitivities to the fore.
Spakenburg (‘the blues), and it’s closest rival IJsselmeervogels (‘the reds’) only play on Saturdays in line with orthodox Bible teaching. But if Spakenburg, who qualified for the semis after beating Utrecht, reach the finals of the Dutch cup on April 30, the club will have a problem.
The game is traditionally played on a Sunday and that would go against the statutes of the club. ‘No, that is not possible’ Spakenburg chairman Marc Schoonebeek told the AD.
The KNVB football association does not rule out a game on Saturday and told broadcaster NOS that it would be meeting the four semi-finalists to discuss matters related to the semi-final and final.
‘It this comes up we will talk about it beforehand,’ a KNVB spokesman told the broadcaster.
Spakenburg coach Chris de Graaf didn’t fancy his club’s chances of playing in the finals but said he hoped to meet Feyenoord in the semis. ‘The Kuip is legendary,’ he said.
Should Spakenburg win their semi final tie, the coach said he would stop with immediate effect. ‘Then we’ll play the final and I’ll be handing in my gear. This is as good as it’s going to get. Winning [the final] would not be realistic,’ De Graaf said.
The 35 year-old Spakenburg native, who has been a member of the club since he was five, said he is still on on a high over his team’s win against Utrecht. ‘The execution was flawless,’ he said.
In a dig at village rival IJsselmeervogels, who also reached the semi-finals in 1975 after beating Groningen 2 -1, De Graaf said his club did better.
‘Our 4 -1 score against a premier league club is a first for Spakenburg. It’s simply legendary,’ he said.
IJsselmeervolgels’ star player at the time, Jaan de Graaf, who caught the attention of foreign clubs but decided to stay at Spakenburg because of the Sunday rule, said the comparison was not fair.
‘We trained once a week,’ he said. He also pointed out that amateur clubs are more professional now. ‘But it was a great day for the whole village,’ he said, ‘except for a handful of fanatical reds who don’t like it that the blues have equalled them.’
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