Minister rejects guilt over World Cup exit

28th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

28 June 2006, AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has shrugged off the accusation she is partly responsible for the Netherlands exiting the World Cup.

28 June 2006

AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has shrugged off the accusation she is partly responsible for the Netherlands exiting the World Cup.

The claim was made by Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff in daily newspaper 'De Telegraaf'. Her crime, in Cruyff's eyes, was the refusal to grant fast-track naturalisation to Salomon Kalou of the Ivory Coast.

Cruyff and Dutch coach Marco van Basten had unsuccessfully lobbied Verdonk  to enable him to join the Dutch World Cup squad.

The striker left Feyenoord Rotterdam and signed with Chelsea in the UK when a court sided with Verdonk shortly before the start of the soccer tournament in Germany.

The Dutch side, minus Kalou, got through the 'Group of Death' in the first round only to be knocked out 0-1 by Portugal.

Cruyff wrote in his newspaper column that Kalou would have enhanced Holland's chances. "The Netherlands found itself in a situation that there was no alternative if Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie weren't in the game. And we could have that with Salomon Kalou."

"I want to say in particular that the minster is there to serve the country's interests and she clearly didn't do that," Cruyff charged.

Verdonk rejected Cruyff's remarks out of hand. "It was the intention that Kalou would play right field? Van Persie, our best man, was positioned there," she quipped.

Her spokesperson later emphasised that Verdonk had not refused to grant Kalou a Dutch passport. All she required was that he would pass the naturalisation test first. He didn't do that. 

A commercial radio station parodied the row on Wednesday by asking its listeners to ring in with silly complaints about Verdonk. 'Verdonk ruined my holiday, and 'Verdonk gave me a black eye' were among the comic accusations levelled against her.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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