The coach of the national Dutch football team Louis van Gaal has ruffled Chinese feathers with remarks he made at a recent press conference. Discussing the team’s plans for matches against China and Indonesia next year, van Gaal said Oranje’s visit to Asia was “to raise money”.
“Not a smart thing to say,” was the reaction of Arie Haan, who has previously coached China’s national football squad. Speaking to RNW, Haan pointed out that Dutch football fans wouldn’t be happy with a national coach who said he was only in the job for the money. Van Gaal’s comments will be seen in China as insulting, says Haan: “It shows a total lack of respect. You’d never say anything like this if you had any understanding at all of the Chinese. They find comments like this completely disrespectful”.
Usually, adds Haan, China would react to something like this by cancelling whatever arrangements had been made with the offending party. But van Gaal and his team may get away with it this time: “China hasn’t had the chance to play many friendly internationals the last few years, so I think they’ll ignore his remarks this time.
The governing football body in the Netherlands, the KNVB, quickly tried to smooth over the row. “The coach did say this would be a lucrative tour for the KNVB, but you have to consider his remarks in the context of the press conference,” said spokesperson Monique Kessels. “Other issues were also discussed including the Dutch under-21 team. The deal is much broader than a simple financial agreement”.
Kessels was referring to possible co-operation between the two host countries and the KNVB Academy, the association’s training body. The Academy would help China and Indonesia to develop local coaches, referees and administrators.
Kessels is confident that Van Gaal’s comments won’t have a negative effect on future international friendlies. She added that any revenue from the matches in Asia would be invested in young players.
Arie Haan though isn’t convinced: “Does the KNVB really need this money? As far as I can see, the football association has been doing pretty well in recent years.” The KNVB recently announced a profit of more than 3 million euros for the 2011.