A Dutch linesman officiating in his son’s youth soccer match was beaten and kicked by several players after the game and died the next day.
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 night, 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 chairman Marcel Oost told national broadcaster NOS.
Three players, whose ages range from 15 to 16, were arrested earlier on Monday for their alleged involvement in the beating on Sunday in the town of Almere.
Dutch Minister of Sports Edith Schippers told NOS 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 teenagers — one of thousands that take place on pitches across this soccer-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.
Nieuwenhuizen had been officiating in a match in which his own son was playing, Oost said.
“He was glad to be a part of this club and proud of his son,” Oost said. “This not just a tragedy for Almere and our club, but for Dutch football in general.”
Police spokeswoman Leonie Bosselaar said shortly before the linesman’s death was announced that the players were still in custody and investigations were continuing.
Nieuw Sloten said in a statement on its Web site it has banned the players involved and pulled their team out of the league.
Both clubs canceled all training scheduled for Monday.
The Dutch Football Association said all 42 of Nieuw Sloten’s matches for next weekend had been canceled at the club’s request.