History Repeats Itself as Dutch Stars Bicker En Plein Public

GuidoAnalyst IOctober 5, 2008

Much to the amusement of many other nations in Europe, our national team has a history of self-destructing, due to ego clashes amongst players and discord with coaches. One of the most famous incidents took place during the European Championships in 1996, when coach Guus Hiddink sent star midfielder Edgar Davids home after a dispute.

That is just one example of Dutch stars not keeping their emotions in check. That very same Davids also got into a locker-room dust-up with then PSV-captain Mark van Bommel in 2003. 

During the reign of Marco van Basten as the national coach Van Bommel, Davids, Clarence Seedorf, and Ruud van Nistelrooy all had disputes regarding their spot in the squad or on the pitch.

Now, the new generation of internationals continues this age old tradition with some old fashioned bickering about who was and is to take free-kicks during a match.
Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder started things of by going public in the media, telling Dutch newspaper Het Parool that Arsenal striker Robin van Persie had "broken agreements", and he wanted to have a talk with him.

Van Persie took a free kick that Sneijder wanted during the Netherlands' 3-1 quarterfinals loss to Russia during last summers European Championship, that ousted the Dutch from the European Cup tournament.

The free kick was awarded late in the game with Russia ahead 1-0. Although the free kick was missed, Ruud van Nistelrooy equalised soon after to send the match into extra time. Russia then scored twice to progress to the semifinals, where it lost to eventual winner Spain.

Sneijder, never afraid to stir up commotion, had this to say: "From the first practise game, I've been designated as the man who takes free kicks and no one else is supposed to touch the ball."

Yet another incident involving Sneijder, who has had incidental clashes with other players in the past, including Philip Cocu, Mark van Bommel, and, ironically enough, his current team-mate Rafael van der Vaart.

Van Persie took the more sensible approach and his response was more polite: "I expected more class from Wesley". Van Persie continued, saying he would have been willing to talk to Sneijder—but won't now that the matter has been made public.

Van Basten, the national coach back when this started, has declined to comment. His successor Van Marwijk has called both of them up for the international games against Iceland and Norway. Fans are fearing the outcome of this row, which might split the national side once again.