Press Review Friday 9 July 2010

9th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

It's official! Dutch World Cup fever has spiralled into World Cup madness! With only two days to go until the Netherlands takes on Spain in the 2010 World Cup final - and with not a lot of actual football news to report in the meantime - the papers’ efforts to fill page after page with Orange-flavoured news are smacking ever so slightly of desperation.

You can’t help feeling sorry for the journalists: if the Netherlands had been playing Germany on Sunday, the press would have had a wealth of sporting and historical rivalry to draw from. The trouble now, as freesheet De Pers explains, is “we’re playing against a country we actually quite like”. But in the belief that “feelings of hatred are good for the fighting spirit”, the paper does its utmost to persuade us that the Spaniards are “even worse than the Germans”, labelling them “animal-rights violators”, “wife beaters” and “saboteurs of the euro”. So much for sporting bonhomie … also goes on the offensive with the headline “We did it in 1648, we can do it in 2010”. Under the motto “an enemy is someone you want to beat” the paper plunges deep into the history books for inspiration, eventually coming up with the Dutch Republic winning its independence from Philip II of Spain many centuries ago.   If you reckon things can’t get any dafter, you’re probably wrong. AD promises a 28-page Saturday final supplement entitled “Tomorrow we will win the Cup”. Only to be trumped by De Telegraaf, which announces its own whopping 40-page offering “We’re going for gold”.   Amid all this overkill, it’s almost a relief to have national curmudgeon Johan Cruijff around to put a damper on things. Next to a forbidding photo of the Dutch legend, AD reports “the best footballer our country has ever known believes more in his second homeland Spain”. The paper can’t resist having a dig at the soccer maestro, though, noting that Cruijff himself “was never able to make the Netherlands world champion” and adding optimistically “that’s something we can set right on Sunday”.   World Cup mania threatens to overshadow Srebrenica The day of the World Cup final – 11 July 2010 – has another significance for the Netherlands: it is the 15th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica and marks the failure of Dutch UN troops to prevent the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the hands of Serb forces towards the end of the Bosnian War in 1995. reports how a demonstration in the Serbian capital Belgrade calling on people not to forget the massacre sparked emotional responses and observes that “Srebrenica divides the Serbs to this day”.   De Volkskrant looks at the youth of Srebrenica 15 years on and allows them to vent their frustration at living somewhere that has become synonymous with “war, hatred and sorrow”. “Everyone uses Srebrenica, but no one’s rebuilding it” says one. Another insists “No more questions about the war. Why does no one ask me about my future?”   Columnist Leen Vervaeke in De Volkskrant notes that “the Netherlands’ World Cup final sits uneasily with the black day for the Dutch battalion”. He admits “When organisations representing the families of Srebrenica victims made an appeal not to play the World Cup final on 11 July … I initially thought they were taking things a bit too far.” But now with the Netherlands in the final he reckons “they may have had a point”.   He argues that the Dutch government has shown a worrying tendency to “safeguard its own interests rather than help the victims’ families” and concludes “the public and political debate on Srebrenica is clearly not over. But that debate won’t be held this year. This year 11 July will be a day of uninhibited popular celebration in the Netherlands and anyone who brings up the subject of Srebrenica will be branded a whinger.”   Job losses shake Dutch confidence in knowledge economy All of today’s papers report on massive job cuts at pharmaceutical company MSD, formerly known as Organon. The 2,175 job losses are particularly painful because many of them are in research and development, a sector the Dutch government is keen to promote as a cornerstone of the country’s economic future. In AD, the GreenLeft party sees the cuts as proof that “the Netherlands’ policy on innovation is failing”.   De Volkskrant agrees: “The Netherlands’ reputation as a centre of knowledge sustained a heavy blow on Thursday as US pharmaceuticals giant Merck wiped out the jobs of no less than 1,100 highly trained researchers … with a single stroke of the pen.” The cuts come after a series of takeovers which NRC Handelsblad reports saw the company “being sold twice in three years”.   De Volkskrant complains that the job assurances and political rhetoric about “the Netherlands as a knowledge economy” heard since the previous takeover “now ring hollow”. It concludes “this case once again reveals the gulf between politics and the corporate world. You’d think this might just give the politicians responsible food for thought.”   Spy swap prompts Cold War nostalgia The Dutch papers are fascinated by the exchange of spies that appeared to be getting underway between Russia and the United States yesterday, in what Trouw describes as “the biggest spy swap since the Cold War”. Eleven people arrested for espionage in Russia are to be exchanged for eleven alleged Russian spies in the US.   As you might expect in such a case, the authorities are being cagey about the whole thing: notes that “what any of these people have actually done remains shrouded in mist”. Trouw comes over all nostalgic “it’s just like the old days” and seems to be particularly excited about one Anya Kushchenko. “The red-haired 28-year-old Russian beauty looks like she has stepped straight out of a James Bond film,” the paper drools. is similarly smitten with the Russian diplomat’s daughter and is also quick to make cinematic comparisons to classic spy thrillers. But it goes on to point out that espionage will never be a thing of the past. “In today’s multipolar world, the importance of collecting industrial or state secrets is becoming more important if anything. Besides, the appeal of the spying game is eternal. Espionage was – and still is – an exciting occupation.”   Since my baby left me… The saddest story of the day can be found in Trouw, which reports on a campsite near a village in Groningen which has been a place of refuge for homeless divorcees. The paper reports “yet more sorrow has been added to the tragedies of love. The residents are not allowed to live there anymore. The local authority has discovered that people have been staying for months on end and that’s in violation of the zoning plan.”   The paper piles on the melodrama, describing the campsite as a place “where gallons of tears must have been shed”. The elderly couple who run the site say they hardly have any holidaymakers and the campsite’s transformation into a modern-day heartbreak hotel was a gradual one. “First came one broken-hearted soul. Then came someone else whose partner had thrown them out on the street.” Their efforts to have the place reclassified as social services accommodation have come to nothing and now the residents will have to move on.  

That’s bad news for one resident whose break-up left him so shattered that he couldn’t even respond to the local council’s offers of housing. “I needed the peace and quiet here at the campsite. Even going into town was more than I could bear.”


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