Blatter 'deeply shocked' as linesman dies after attack by players

Blatter 'deeply shocked' as linesman dies after attack by players

FIFA president Sepp Blatter today expressed his shock at the death of a Dutch linesman after he was assaulted by players in a match on Sunday.

Richard Nieuwenhuizen, 41, who was affiliated to Dutch youth club Buitenboys, was rushed to hospital after being punched and kicked by players from opponents Nieuw-Sloten.

"I would like to express my sadness and distress on hearing of the death of assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen," he said.

"I was deeply shocked to learn of this tragic incident.

"Football is a mirror of society and sadly, the same ills that afflict society - in this case violence - also manifest themselves in our game.

"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 use its positive example to educate people against these wrongs."

Nieuwenhuizen's club announced last night on Twitter: "With great sadness we announce the death of our @Buitenboys linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen. Our thoughts are with his family.

"Our linesman Richard died at 17:30 in front of his family. This violence must stop on the pitch! #stopsenselessviolence".

According to reports in The Netherlands, three Nieuw-Sloten players were arrested and taken into police custody.

The Amsterdam club have responded by banning the players involved in the incident, withdrawing from the league in which the game took place and temporarily suspending all their operations as a club.

A statement on the club's website read: "The board of sv Nieuw-Sloten learned with horror of the death of the linesman of Buitenboys. We are deeply shocked by the fact that the match on Sunday degenerated so badly, with this result.

"We express here our sympathy, firstly to the family of the deceased person. Words fail us. In addition, we also express our sympathy to the Buitenboys club and all its members.

"We distance ourselves strongly from the behaviour of the players who are responsible. As an association, when we were aware of wrongdoing, we apologised to Buitenboys.

"For our club, this is a huge shock, an event that touches all of our members. Violence should not be on the football fields, and certainly not against referees, linesmen and all those others who volunteer each year to enable over a million amateur footballers to play. We must do everything possible to eliminate these excesses.

"Nieuw-Sloten is an association with many youth members. Fair play standards and values are of paramount importance to us and we support the campaign by the KNVB against violence on the field.

"We will of course fully co-operate with the police investigation. We believe that those who are responsible for this act should be punished.

"We decided yesterday to take the team concerned out of the KNVB competition. Also, the persons to our knowledge responsible for this beating were immediately removed and can never become a member of our association.

"Obviously, the police are investigating the incident. We will report these persons to the KNVB once their involvement is officially determined to ensure a lifetime expulsion.

"For now we have suspended all our activities as a club. The training of all our teams for this week has been cancelled. After consultation with the KNVB, we have decided out of respect for the family of the victim that our teams will play no matches this weekend."

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