“It’s important that parents but also the professional players give good examples how to behave,” Van der Burg said. “Sports should be fun.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter weighed in on the national debate about how such an attack could happen.
“Football is a mirror of society and sadly, the same ills that afflict society _ in this case violence _ also manifest themselves in our game,” Blatter said Tuesday in a statement. “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.”
Prosecutors say a group of Nieuw Sloten players surrounded Nieuwenhuizen after the match Sunday, kicking and punching him.
Nieuwenhuizen initially appeared to have recovered from the assault at the club whose fields are squeezed into an industrial neighborhood of Almere, a fast-growing commuter city just outside Amsterdam. He went home and lay down, but returned later to watch another game. It was then that he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.
A day later, with his family surrounding his hospital bed, he died.
A few hours later, decorations marking Wednesday’s St. Nicholas day _ a national celebration similar to Christmas _ were still hanging at the Buitenboys clubhouse as team members wept and consoled one another.
Nieuw Sloten immediately banned the players involved and scrapped their team from the league as well as canceling all matches for the coming weekend.
As a wave of grief swept over the soccer community, another Amsterdam club, TOS-Actief, said on its website it was canceling all matches for the weekend.
“By doing this, TOS-Actief is taking a clear stance against excesses in football,” the club said. “We say stop violence on and around the pitch.”
Van der Burg proposed calling off all amateur matches nationwide for the weekend.
A delegation from the Royal Netherlands Football Association visited Buitenboys on Tuesday to discuss a “fitting way to pay tribute” to Nieuwenhuizen and express support for the club.
Nieuwenhuizen’s death came almost exactly a year after a Dutch amateur soccer player fatally kicked a 77-year-old fan 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 in prison for kicking the fan so hard in the chest his spleen ruptured. He died of his injuries a month later.
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