Another shady academic sends shockwaves through the Dutch establishment. The face-off at Ajax football club takes the nation by storm. Dutch trust in the churches plummets to an all-time low. And a gun-loving couple present an unlikely defence.
Reviewed Dutch dailies
Another fraudulent professor bites the dust
No sooner has the shockwave surrounding “lying Dutchman” Diederik Stapel died down than another case of academic misconduct rears its ugly head. This time the guilty party is Professor Don Poldermans, an internationally renowned cardiovascular specialist at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam. De Volkskrant tells us he is accused of serious irregularities in seven studies investigated after an internal tip off. The professor denies fabricating his own research data but that’s the accusation ringing out in all of today’s papers.
Trouw points out an important difference between this latest case and the scandal involving shamed psychology professor Diederik Stapel, sacked for systematically perpetrating fraud for at least eight years. While Stapel deliberately worked towards achieving certain results, there was no evidence for this in Poldermans’ work. Nor were any patients disadvantaged, insists the hospital. But that is scant consolation when the wayward professor is the third researcher in two months forced to resign under a cloud.
Ajax: Shakespearian drama grips the nation
Today’s papers continue to lap up the clash of the titans taking place at Amsterdam’s Ajax football club. Just when soccer legend Johan Cruyff seemed to be calling the shots, his fellow board members go behind his back and appoint arch-rival Louis van Gaal as chief executive. Or at least that’s how Cruyff sees it. “I should be the boss,” he insists on the front page of AD. “It’s not about me or Van Gaal. It’s about Ajax and now they’ve set fire to the club.”
AD’s sports columnist describes the situation as “an unbeatable tragedy” and reckons “you don’t have to be Shakespeare to predict that the scandal involving Cruyff and Van Gaal will end in disaster.” A rival manager smiles “Ajax is more entertaining than the biggest soap opera in the land right now” and secretly hopes his team will benefit from the chaos.
The paper notes that ideally Ajax’s supporters “would rather see Cruyff and Van Gaal work together” but everyone seems to agree that hell will freeze over first. De Volkskrant splits the club into two camps, one loyal to Cruyff, the other to Van Gaal and comments ruefully “in this clash of the kings one loser is already known ... football talent is being sacrificed to ego.”
One paper that’s not looking on from the sidelines is De Telegraaf, which makes no bones about its allegiance to Cruyff. In an editorial entitled “shame”, it lashes out at the “executives wilfully razing a wonderful football club to the ground [...] with their scheming machinations, amateurism and shameless posturing.” As if this wasn’t partisan enough, the paper devotes much of its front page to an open letter by Cruyff himself in which he threatens to leave the club taking a number of coaches with him. It ends with the fateful words “we shall see ...”
The Dutch trust the radio, not the Lord
Protestant daily Trouw features a worrying insight into the state of the Netherlands on its front page. A government report reveals that less than half of the Dutch place their trust in the government, and still less in political parties. But what really has the paper worried is that the country’s churches are at the bottom of the pile with only 35 percent.
“Never has trust in the church been at such a low ebb among the Dutch,” sighs the paper. “This is worrying and saddening,” says a church spokesman. “Faith in the church has been let down, yet the church is all about preaching faith.”
He believes it’s no bad thing that churches no longer inspire unquestioning trust and that they are held accountable for their actions. But he worries that “the balance tipping in the wrong direction” and that there is “less and less room for religion in the public debate.”
So who do the Dutch trust? Bizarrely “radio” heads the list with 75 percent, followed by the police and the army. It’s almost enough to make you wonder whether a military coup would meet with much resistance in these parts.
A dangerous hobby
De Telegraaf reports on what appears to be a shaky line of defence, as a Dutch couple go on trial for having 400 firearms, thirty thousand euros in counterfeit money and a drugs press in their home. The paper says police were flabbergasted when they raided the house to discover “the biggest domestic arms haul ever in Europe”, including machine guns, hand grenades and anti-tank weapons.
But the accused pleads “I’m just a humble collector” and insists that his wife knew nothing about his hobby. He denies having anything to do with the counterfeit money and claims he used the drugs press to make fish food, though he did allow an acquaintance to press cocaine on it “as long as he cleaned up afterwards”.
If you’re having a tough time swallowing all this, you’re not the only one. The court was quick to cast doubt on the lady of the house’s insistence that she was ignorant of what was going on. “If you have no interest in weapons, then why are you chairwoman of a gun club? And when you opened the kitchen drawer to get a tea towel, surely you must have noticed the gun with a silencer lying there?” It’ll be interesting to see how many more details of domestic bliss emerge as the trial progresses.