Euro 2020: Netherlands See Off David Alaba’s Austria To Book Place In Last 16


Netherlands’ defender Denzel Dumfries (hidden) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with his team-mates during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group C football match between the Netherlands and Austria at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on June 17, 2021. JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

 

Memphis Depay’s early penalty set the Netherlands on the way to a 2-0 win over Austria in Amsterdam on Thursday, their second straight victory at Euro 2020 securing qualification for the last 16 already as winners of Group C.

Depay made no mistake from the spot in the 11th minute after David Alaba’s foul on Denzel Dumfries was spotted by the Israeli referee only after he had come across to review the images.

READ ALSO: Christian Eriksen: Denmark Midfielder To Have Defibrillator Implanted Following Cardiac Arrest


Netherlands’ forward Wout Weghorst (C) has a shot during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group C football match between the Netherlands and Austria at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on June 17, 2021. Peter Dejong / POOL / AFP

 

Dumfries, so impressive in the thrilling opening 3-2 win over Ukraine, added another midway through the second half, his second goal of the tournament.

The Dutch were comfortable at home in the Johan Cruyff Arena and Frank de Boer’s side are so far making a success of their first major tournament appearance since the 2014 World Cup.

That is great news for De Boer, whose predecessor as national coach, current Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, was among the spectators.

Ukraine beat North Macedonia 2-1 earlier in Bucharest and, with head-to-head the first tiebreaker, the Dutch now cannot be caught at the top of the group.

They have six points, while Austria and Ukraine have three and North Macedonia nothing.

That means De Boer can rest players for the final group game against North Macedonia on Monday, safe in the knowledge that the Dutch will be going to Budapest for a last-16 tie on June 27 against a third-place finisher.

De Boer said coming into the Euro that the 1988 champions were “between the fourth and eighth-best team” and already they can see their path opening up to the quarter-finals.

They will still need to improve if they are to stand a chance of going any further, but they appear to be finding their feet in the 3-5-2 system that De Boer has controversially opted for.

Still hope for Austria


Austria players including (L-R) Austria’s defender Martin Hinteregger, Austria’s midfielder Marcel Sabitzer and Austria’s midfielder Florian Grillitsch react after the UEFA EURO 2020 Group C football match between the Netherlands and Austria at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on June 17, 2021. JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

Austria, after all, are a mediocre side and were not helped by the penalty carelessly given away by Alaba, their captain and best player.

Franco Foda’s side were also handicapped by the absence of Marko Arnautovic, suspended for insulting an opponent after coming off the bench and scoring against North Macedonia.

Foda had said he was in line to start here.

Austria can nevertheless still qualify for the last 16 with a game against Ukraine to come.

Whoever comes second in this group will play the Group A winners — either Wales or Italy — in London on June 26.

If the Dutch King and Queen were present at their first match, this time FIFA president Gianni Infantino was in the stands, as well as Koeman.

Depay, out of contract at Lyon, hinted on the eve of the game that he is set to team up with Koeman in Barcelona.

The former Manchester United man believes he is good enough to play for a club of Barcelona’s stature, and he confidently stroked home the early spot-kick awarded following a VAR review for Alaba’s foul on Dumfries.

He then missed a sitter just before half-time, failing to hit the target after Wout Weghorst teed him up.

It was from a Depay corner that Weghorst nodded the ball down for Stefan de Vrij to see his effort from point-blank range saved by Austria goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann on the hour mark.

Moments later De Boer shook things up with a triple change, including sending on PSV Eindhoven forward Donyell Malen for Weghorst.

And midway through the second half it was Depay who released Malen to run through and square for Dumfries, one of the stars of the tournament so far, to score.

Koeman will also have been impressed with another assured display by Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong in midfield, while Matthijs de Ligt cruised through the game in defence on his return from injury.

AFP

Heineken To Cut 8,000 Jobs As Virus Takes Fizz Out Of Sales

 

 

Dutch brewing giant Heineken said on Wednesday it would cut around 8,000 jobs worldwide as the coronavirus pandemic kept much of the hospitality sector closed.

Heineken, the world’s number two brewer, said it recorded a net loss of 204 million euros ($247 million) in 2020, a 109 percent fall in profits from the year before.

Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink said it had been “a year of unprecedented disruption and transition” for the company.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and governments’ measures continue to have a material impact on our markets and business,” Heineken said in a statement.

Sales fell by 17 percent to 23 billion euros with bars and cafes closed in many countries, the company said.

Less than 30 percent of outlets were operating in Europe in particular at the end of January, it said.

Heineken had announced in October that restructuring was needed to reduce personnel costs but gave no figure for layoffs at the time.

“The overall restructuring programme will reduce our employee base by c.8,000 people,” Wednesday’s statement said.

This included including cutting jobs at the head office in Amsterdam while other layoffs would depend on local circumstances, it added.

Founded in the 19th century in Amsterdam, Heineken sells more than 300 brands, including its namesake plus others such as Strongbow and Amstel. It employs 85,000 people globally.

AFP

Dutch Court Orders Shell To Pay Nigerian Farmers Over Oil Spills

After 13 years of legal wrangling, an appeals court will rule on demands by Nigerian farmers for Anglo-Dutch giant Shell to clean up devastating oil spills in the Niger Delta and pay compensation
(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP)

 

A Dutch court on Friday ordered Shell to pay compensation in a long-running case brought by four Nigerian farmers who accuse the oil giant of causing widespread pollution.

After 13 years of legal wrangling, an appeals court in The Hague ruled that Shell’s Nigerian branch must pay out for oil spills on land in two villages.

It also held the Anglo-Dutch parent company Royal Dutch Shell liable for installing new pipeline equipment to prevent further devastating spills in the Niger Delta region.

The case, backed by the Netherlands arm of environment group Friends of the Earth, has dragged on so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed in 2008.

“The court ruled that Shell Nigeria is liable for the damage caused by the spills. Shell Nigeria is sentenced to compensate farmers for damages,” judge Sierd Schaafsma said.

 

The oil pollution lawsuit has been on for about 13 years, two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed.

 

The amount of damages would be determined later, the court said. It did not specify how many of the four farmers would receive compensation.

The farmers first sued Shell in 2008 over pollution in their villages Goi, Oruma and Ikot Ada Udo, in southeastern Nigeria.

A lower court in the Netherlands found in 2013 that Shell should pay compensation for one leak but that Shell’s parent company could not be held liable in a Dutch court for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary.

But in 2015 the Hague appeals court ruled that Dutch courts did indeed have jurisdiction in the case.

 

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on October 11, 2012, (L/R): four Nigerian farmers, Friday Alfred Akpan-Ikot Ada Udo and Eric Dooh, Nini Okey Uche of the Nigerian Embassy, lawyer Prince Chima Williams and farmers Chief Fidelis A. Oguru-Oruma and Alali Efanga pose at the law courts in The Hague.  (Photo by ROBIN UTRECHT / ANP / AFP)

 

Environmental damage

On Friday, the court ruled that Shell Nigeria must pay compensation for the leaks at Goi and Oruma.

“In the Uruma cases, Shell Nigeria and… Royal Dutch Shell are ordered to equip the pipeline with a leak detection system so that environmental damage can be limited in the future,” the court said.

Shell Nigeria should have shut down oil supplies on the day of the spill in the cases in Goi, it said.

The court said it needed more time to resolve the case of Ikot Ada Udo, saying that the leak was due to sabotage but it was not clear whether Shell could still be held liable for it, and for cleaning up.

“For the inhabitants of the Niger Delta it is crucial that their land is cleaned up and their lost crops and livelihoods are compensated by the guilty party: Shell,” Donald Pols of Friends of the Earth Netherlands said in a statement ahead of the case.

Shell has always blamed all of the spills on sabotage and said it has cleaned up with due care where pollution has occurred.

At a hearing last year lawyers for the farmers showed gushing and burning oil spills as well as villagers dragging their hands through water sources, their hands streaked with the substance afterward.

Nigeria was the world’s ninth-largest oil producer in 2018, pumping out volumes valued at some $43.6 billion (37 billion euros), or 3.8 percent of total global production.

In a separate case in the Netherlands, the widows of four Nigerian activists executed by the military regime in the 1990s have accused Shell of complicity in their deaths.

Shell also faces a landmark legal bid to force it to meet emissions targets in the Paris climate accords, brought by several environmental groups in the Netherlands led by Friends of the Earth in 2019.

Alleged Drug Lord Dubbed ‘Asia’s El Chapo’ Arrested In Amsterdam

Netherlands on the map

 

The alleged ringleader of Asia’s biggest crime syndicate and one of the world’s most wanted men has been arrested in the Netherlands, with Australian authorities pushing Sunday for his extradition to face trial.

Police had been chasing alleged drug kingpin Tse Chi Lop, 57, for years until his arrest by Dutch police on Friday acting on a request from Australia’s federal police.

In a statement Sunday, Australian authorities said a man “of significant interest” to law enforcement agencies had been detained. A police spokeswoman confirmed his name as Tse Chi Lop.

The Chinese-born Canadian citizen has been dubbed Asia’s “El Chapo” in reference to the nickname of Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, now serving a life sentence in a US prison.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Kill Five In Fresh Niger Attack

Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling confirmed that “a suspect who figured on Europol’s list of the most wanted persons” was arrested on Friday morning after landing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Aling, speaking to AFP on Sunday, would not say where the flight originated.

“This person is currently incarcerated, waiting to see what will happen as it has to do with an Australian investigation,” Aling added.

“An extradition will take place at Australia’s request, and the matter will proceed like that.”

“Australia would like to have this gentleman,” he added, calling the suspect “a big boy” for Canberra.

Tse Chi Lop has been named by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines globally.

Sam Gor is believed to launder its billions in drug money through businesses springing up in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region — including casinos, hotels and real estate.

Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest followed an operation that in 2012-13 nabbed 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries.

The group were accused of importing “substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine” into Australia, long a lucrative market for drug traffickers.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime,” the Australian police said.

As part of the 2012-13 raids across Melbourne, police seized AUS$9 million (US$7 million) worth of assets, including cash, designer handbags, casino chips and jewellery.

– $60 billion market –
The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost a decade after that operation’s launch is a major breakthrough for Australian authorities.

The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China which are pumping unprecedented quantities of synthetic drugs into global markets.

A UNODC study says Southeast Asia’s crime groups net more than $60 billion a year.

The production of methamphetamine — either in tablet “yaba” form or the highly potent crystallised “ice” version — as well as ketamine and fentanyl take place primarily in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, but much of the precursor chemicals needed to cook them flows across the border from China.

Thailand in 2018 netted more than 515 million yaba tablets, 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region a decade ago, the UNODC said.

Drug hauls feature almost daily in headlines across the region, with traffickers finding more creative ways to ship out their illicit products.

AFP

Nigeria Receives Over 600 Years Old Ife Terracotta Head, Others From Netherlands

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and others attend the presentation of the Ife terracotta head and other artifacts from the Kingdom of Netherlands in Abuja on November 26, 2020. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Nigerian government has received the repatriated Ife terracotta head and other artifacts from the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Mr Lai Mohammed, who is the Minister of Information and Culture, took delivery of the artifacts on Thursday at an event in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Harry Van Dijk, presented the valuable pieces of art to the minister on behalf of the government of the European country.

The terracotta head from Ile-Ife in Osun State, a unique and rare artifact, was intercepted by Dutch Customs at the Schiphol Airport in 2018.

The event was also attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, as well as Professor Abba Tijani.

Professor Tijani, who is the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, stated that the Ife terracotta head was said to be at least 600 years old.

Highlights of the event are captured in the pictures below:

Read the full text of the Minister of Information at the event below:

SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, WHILE RECEIVING AN IFE TERRACOTTA ANTIQUITY RETURNED FROM THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS….IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 26 NOV. 2020

Protocol

It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta, which is dated to be at least 600 years old.

I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities, which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits.

You will recall that at the World Press Conference held for that purpose in Lagos on November 28, 2019, I asserted that Nigeria will work towards the return and restitution of her cultural property wherever they may be in the world.

That assertion was not a fluke, as we have seen today.

Our resolve to seek the repatriation of our timeless and priceless artifacts was strengthened by Mr President’s marching order for Nigeria to tap into tourism and other fields, where Nigeria has comparative advantages, in order to generate income for the nation and secure jobs for our youths.

One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee-paying audience, on the basis of proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us.

But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others, who describe them as their properties.

Today’s event marks a new beginning. Our antiquities must work for our progress. Apart from the pecuniary benefits, these priceless objects wrought by our forebears are unifying factors.

It is heart-warming to note that the leadership of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments is showing renewed efforts at repatriation.

Regarding the antiquity that is being handed over to us today, the smuggler had obtained forged documents purported to be from a former Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

The smuggler ultimately passed through the airport in Ghana before getting to Europe in 2019.

The Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport suspected that the object might be illicitly imported and alerted the antiquity protection office known as the Inspectie, which is the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, to give an opinion.

The Inspectie invited Nigeria to prove her case against the suspected smuggler. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) acted swiftly by dispatching its lawyer, Mr Babatunde Adebiyi, who is with us here today, to present evidence and argue for the return of the object.

Nigeria was successful in this and the claim was determined in favour of Nigeria.

After all internal procedures, including the right of appeal, were exhausted, the Government of the Netherlands – at a very elaborate event – handed over the object to the Nigerian Embassy in the Hague on November 2, 2020.

The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, made all possible arrangements to ensure the return of the antiquity to Nigeria.

He directed the Charge d’Affaires of our Embassy in the Netherlands, Mr Kabiru Musa, to bring back the antiquity, which we are receiving today.

We want to most sincerely thank the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and his staff, both at home and in the Netherlands.

We also thank His Excellency Harry van Dijk, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria.

Our gratitude also goes to the Director and officials of the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, officials of the Customs of the Netherlands as well as the National Museum of the Netherlands for rendering preservation and conservation assistance while the adjudication of the claim lasted.

The Inspectie, that is the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, and the National Commission for Museums and

Monuments of Nigeria have agreed to make a joint presentation of this issue to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris, so that other nations may

take a cue from this in finding rapprochement and common ground concerning the issue of return of antiquities

Let me state here that Nigeria believes in joint international efforts to put a stop to illicit export and import of cultural goods.

The issue of cultural property should not be a ground of rancour and discord among nations. That is if nations choose to tow the path which the Kingdom of The Netherlands has chosen by insisting on justice, fairness and amity.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

Several Shots Fired At Saudi Embassy In The Netherlands

This picture shows the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in The Hague, on November 12, 2020, after it was shot. Several shots were fired at the Saudi embassy in the Dutch city of The Hague but no one was hurt, police said on Thursday. Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP
This picture shows the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in The Hague, on November 12, 2020, after it was shot. Several shots were fired at the Saudi embassy in the Dutch city of The Hague but no one was hurt, police said on Thursday. Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP

 

Several shots were fired at the Saudi embassy in the Dutch city of The Hague but no one was hurt, police said on Thursday.

“Just before 6am (0500 GMT) we received a message that a shot had been fired at a building in The Hague. There were no injuries,” police said on Twitter.

A number of bullet casings were found at the scene after the incident, the Dutch news agency ANP quoted police as saying.

Local media said there were 20 bullet holes in the building and showed pictures of some holes in windows. There was no confirmation of the number of shots by police.

Officers have sealed off the scene and forensic teams are conducting an investigation, police said.

The motive for the shooting was not known.

The incident comes a day after a bomb blast struck a World War I commemoration attended by French and other diplomats in the Saudi city of Jeddah Wednesday, wounding at least two people.

 

 

AFP

Frank De Boer Appointed Dutch National Team Coach

 

Frank de Boer has been appointed as the Netherlands’ new coach, the Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) announced on Wednesday.

The third-most capped Dutch player of all time, De Boer replaces Ronald Koeman who resigned earlier this year to take the reins at Barcelona and caretaker coach Dwight Lodeweges.

“The 50-year-old former international will be at the helm of the Oranje until the World Cup in 2022,” the KNVB said in a statement.

De Boer “is to start immediately,” it added, saying he “will already be on the bench in the upcoming practice match against Mexico and the Nations League duels with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Italy”.

De Boer, a talented left-footed defender while playing for the Oranje between 1990 and 2004, has had a mixed career as a coach.

He first took up coaching at Amsterdam powerhouse Ajax in 2007 and assisted Bert van Marwijk, together with retired player Phillip Cocu to help the Dutch team reach the final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they were beaten by Spain.

Later that year he took over as caretaker manager at Ajax and guided them to become Eredivisie champions for the 2010-11 season.

By 2014 De Boer won his fourth successive Eredivisie title with Ajax, the first manager ever to achieve this in the Dutch league.

He resigned from Ajax in 2016 and signed a three-year contract at Inter Milan in August that year, but was sacked after only 85 days at the helm after a string of losses.

In June 2017 De Boer was announced as the new manager of Premier League side Crystal Palace but was sacked 10 weeks later when Palace lost their first four league matches of the season without scoring a single goal.

He was announced as new coach at Atlanta United in December 2018 and in his first season the eastern team won the US Open and the Campeones Cup and played in the Eastern Conference final.

De Boer and the club however parted ways in July after another set of losses, after which he was approached by the KNVB.

De Boer will officially be presented by the KNVB at its training centre in Zeist near the central city of Utrecht on Friday.

FG Expecting $200m From Netherlands, Switzerland – Malami

 

The Federal Government says Nigeria is awaiting the return of $200million from the Netherlands and Switzerland.

According to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, the money is part of proceeds from the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 Malabu oil deal.

Mr Malami disclosed this on Tuesday at a one-day capacity building workshop organised for judiciary correspondents in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

At the event, he presented a scorecard of the Ministry of Justice in the last one year during which he outlined the efforts of the present administration in the war against corruption.

“On the fight against corruption and associated recovery of looted and illicit assets, I am happy to inform you that within the period in contention, Nigeria succeeded in recovering $311 billion from U.S. and New Jersey and the money has been repatriated to Nigeria,” Malami said.

READ ALSO: FG Recovers N800bn Looted Funds, Convicts 1,400 – Lai Mohammed

The minister said due to the anti-corruption crusade, the Federal Government facilitated the recovery of $62 billion arrears from oil companies as part of its Production Sharing Agreement (PSA).

He explained that the money has been paid into the Federal Government treasury for utility development such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Kano-Abuja Expressway, and the Second Niger Bridge, in line with the agreement reached with the foreign partners.

Malami also disclosed that over N685 million was recovered through the help of whistle-blowers within the last one year while N500 million was recovered from forfeited vessels, trucks, and barges.

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

 

Elsewhere, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the government has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion with over 1,400 convictions secured.

Mohammed, who also addressed reporters in the nation’s capital, stated that the present administration’s fight against corruption was as strong as ever.

While stressing that there were records to back up his claim, he said Nigerians have recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies.

He listed some of the agencies to include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Nigeria To Evacuate 15 Citizens Stranded In Europe

In this file photo taken on August 07, 2018 (FILES) In this file picture taken on August 7, 2018 shows a Air France planes parked on the tarmac of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris. JOEL SAGET / AFP
This file picture taken on August 7, 2018 shows Air France planes parked on the tarmac of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris. JOEL SAGET / AFP

 

The Federal Government has commenced the evacuation of another batch of 15 Nigerians stranded in Europe.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) disclosed this on Thursday via its Twitter handle.

As of 11am, the commission said the evacuees would depart the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris via an Air France flight to Nigeria and Cotonou, Benin Republic.

It explained that the evacuation exercise was coordinated by the Nigerian Mission in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and monitored by NIDCOM.

According to the commission, the returnees are expected to arrive at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at about 4:45pm.

It noted that the evacuees would proceed on 14 days self-isolation as mandated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Read the tweets below:

 

Over 400 Nigerians Evacuated

The evacuation of the latest batch of Nigerians comes barely a day after more than 400 Nigerians returned to the country from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India.

In separate tweets on Wednesday, NIDCOM stated that 246 people returned from UAE and 162 others were evacuated from India.

It noted that the returnees from Dubai arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport at 3:30pm on Wednesday, adding that the Nigerian Mission in Dubai and the UAE government paid for the flight tickets and COVID-19 test for 131 evacuees.

The returnees from India, on the other hand, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after about four hours.

Ninety-six evacuees disembarked in Abuja while the remaining 66 proceeded to Lagos.

See the tweets below:

No Champions As Dutch League Becomes First In Europe To End Season

Ajax’ Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana (3rdR) and teammates react after valencia scored the opener during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia CF at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on December 10, 2019.
Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

The Dutch football federation (KNVB) called an end to the 2019-20 season on Friday, as the Eredivisie became the first top European league called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

No team will be declared champions after Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were left level on points at the top of the table with nine games still to play.

“Unfortunately, given the measures (banning large-scale gatherings) taken by the government, it became impossible to finish the 2019-2020 season,” the KNVB said in a statement.

“Public health always comes first. This is not just a football problem given what the coronavirus is doing to society. Nonetheless, the professional football committee is aware that the decisions today are going to cause great disappointment for some,” it added.

Leaders Ajax, above AZ on goal difference, will qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League group stage, according to the KNVB, which will await a definitive verdict from UEFA on May 25.

AZ will likely enter the competition’s qualifying rounds, with Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Willem II set to compete in the Europa League based on the final standings.

The KNVB announced its intention to scrap the season on Tuesday following the Dutch government’s decision to extend a ban on mass gatherings until September 1.

Matches behind closed doors were said not to be an option as they are considered events which require a permit and police presence.

The final decision was made following a meeting with the clubs on Friday. Next season will begin with the same 18 teams that started the aborted Eredivisie campaign.

“There will be no relegation, nor promotion,” said the KNVB, which is expected to face legal action from SC Cambuur and De Graafschap — the top two clubs in the second division.

The Belgian Pro League is expected to take a similar decision to that of their neighbours next week, with Club Brugge to be awarded the title.

Football in Europe ground to a standstill in mid-March following the spread of the virus across the continent. However, Germany is preparing to resume the Bundesliga on May 9 behind closed doors, if the government gives the green light.

Players in France could begin to return to training starting May 11, if lockdown restrictions are eased, while La Liga is also planning for clubs to resume training early next month.

No potential restart dates have yet been announced for leagues in Italy or England.

Netherlands’ Coronavirus Cases Exceeds 10,000

People wearing protective masks move packages distributed during the start of the meal delivery campaign of the platform justpeople.nl (gewoonmensen.nl) in collaboration with the Food Bank on March 28, 2020 in The Hague.  AFP

 

The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the Netherlands passed the 10,000 marks on Sunday, the authorities said, as the country focuses on building up herd immunity rather than confining the population of 17 million. 

A total of 771 people have died from the COVID-19 epidemic in the Netherlands and 10,866 have tested positive, the country’s institute for public health and environment (RIVM) said.

The Dutch government has adopted a series of measures to fight the virus but has decided so far not to force people to stay home. A review of the policy is due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

“The number of reported hospital admissions and the number of deceased patients appears to be increasing less rapidly than would be expected without measures in place,” the institute said on its website.

“In a number of days, it can be concluded whether the number of hospital admissions and the number of deaths among reported patients is actually levelling off, and thus how well the measures are working.”

More than two-thirds of the more than 31,000 deaths worldwide from coronavirus have now been recorded in Europe and the Netherlands has warned people will be put under confinement if the measures already are taken do not work.

Schools, bars, restaurants, coffee houses and even brothels have been shut down since March 16, while school-leaving exams have been cancelled.

All public gatherings and events now require official authorisation and social distancing of 1.5 metres (5 feet) has been imposed in shops and on public transport under threat of fines.

AFP

Netherlands Confirms First Coronavirus Death

PICTURE USED TO DEPICT THE STORY This picture was taken on February 24, 2020 shows a view outside the quarantine zone at the hospital in the central Iraqi holy shrine city of Najaf where the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 documented in Iraq is being treated. AFP

 

The Netherlands has recorded its first death in the novel coronavirus outbreak, health officials said on Friday.

“An 86-year-old man with COVID-19 who was admitted to the Ikazia hospital in Rotterdam has died,” the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said.

“This is the first patient in the Netherlands to die of the coronavirus,” the RIVM said, adding that the source of the patient’s contamination was unknown.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the world is approaching 100,000 and more than 3,400 have proved fatal.

The Netherlands has seen a jump in cases from 82 to 128 over the last two days.

“The man was isolated as soon as it became clear that he had COVID-19,” the RIVM said.

Everyone who had contact with the patient — including visitors and health workers — is being questioned about their health, the institute said.

“All those in contact with the patient who are suffering from a cold or have a fever have been asked to remain at home. If necessary, they will be tested,” the RIVM added