Verdonk refuses to play ball for Kalou
30 September 2005, AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk is sticking by her decision not to speed up the naturalisation process to allow Ivorian footballer Salomon Kalou to play for Holland.
30 September 2005
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk is sticking by her decision not to speed up the naturalisation process to allow Ivorian footballer Salomon Kalou to play for Holland.
The Feyenoord Rotterdam player was informed of this on Thursday in reaction to his appeal against the initial decision not to speed up the process.
Verdonk's hard-line stance was supported by a majority in Parliament during a debate on naturalisation on Thursday.
MPs of the government coalition partners, the Liberal Party (VVD) and the Christian Democrat (CDA), backed her, as did the populist LPF and orthodox Christian party SGP.
MPs of the other opposition
parties and the smallest government party D66 criticised the minister for not allowing Kalou to become a Dutch citizen in time so that he can play for Holland in the World Cup in Germany in 2006.
In an emergency debate on the issue, Verdonk said she adhered to a "restrictive immigration policy" and that there was no reason to speed up the naturalisation in this case. Kalou has only been in the Netherlands since 2003 and has not "ingeburgerd" (integrated), she said.
The Constitution grants her the power to speed up naturalisation in cases where the applicant will be a significant benefit to the country.
She came to her decision despite advice from Sports Minister Clémence Ross that Kalou would be a great asset to Dutch football. Dutch football legend Johan Cruijff and national coach Marco van Basten also said Kalou would enrich the game in the Netherlands.
Verdonk emphasised that she was not going to change her mind just because lots of Dutch people agreed with Cruijff and Van Basten.
"I am here to be a minister and not to be Popie Jopie (everybody's friend)", the minister said.
Independent MP and former immigration minister Hilbrand has submitted a motion calling on Verdonk to respect the advice submitted by the sports minister. Parliament is to vote on this and other motions relating to Kalou's case on Tuesday.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news