Ex-footballer van Basten shocks with Nazi comment

Football icon Marco van Basten has caused a wave of indignation by commenting in an interview broadcast live in German on the interviewer's poor German language skills with the words "Sieg Heil". Dutch media reactions range from outrage to ennui.

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De Telegraaf (NL) /

Social antenna pointing in the wrong direction

Van Basten's remarks and half-hearted apology are typical of the former football star, De Telegraaf fumes:

“What is going on in the head of someone who associates the 'bad German' [of an interviewer] with 'Sieg Heil'? ... Van Basten didn't assume the blame himself. He didn't say that he was a complete moron, or explain what was behind the gaffe. ... In the past it was clear that he lacked sensitivity, and that his social antenna was pointing in the wrong direction. He found it nonsense that [ex-footballer] Ruud Gullit praised Nelson Mandela, he found it normal for his wife to carry his football bag and thought 30 years ago that the minimum wage was 4,500 euros.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

The media's hysterical reaction

De Volkskrant columnist Jean-Pierre Geelen finds all the fuss the media has made over the incident completely disproportionate:

“It shows once again how the media, led by their obsession with pleasing the general public, give the empty chatter of footballers far too much of a stage. It would have been just a meaningless moment of diminishing brain activity if the international press hadn't taken up the incident. ... The symptoms are clear. The patient, the Netherlands, is in a critical condition. It is constantly restless, excited and suffering from anxiety cramps. There is no fast-acting medicine to treat this, only a therapy based on relaxation exercises can help.”