The Hague - A Dutch man who was beaten and kicked by several
soccer players after working as a linesman during a youth match his son was
playing in died on Monday.
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 on Monday evening 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 chairperson Marcel Oost told national broadcaster
Three players, whose ages range from 15 to 16, were arrested
earlier on Monday for alleged involvement in the beating on Sunday in the town
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
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 soccer and hockey are incredibly popular and well-organised for young
Police spokesperson 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
Both clubs canceled all training scheduled for Monday.
The Dutch FA said all 42 of Nieuw Sloten's matches for next
weekend had been cancelled 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."