According to the Dutch newspaper Trouw, the PVV, also known as The Freedom Party, proposed a ban on immigrants in amateur soccer leagues in the Hague, claiming that soccer clubs with many immigrants are facing violence and "Islamization." The group withdrew that proposal when it appeared to provoke outrage among other politicians.
The PVV is the party of Geert Wilders, currently on trial on charges of hate speech for his anti-Islamic statements. It is the third largest party in terms of Parliamentary seats held.
The Hague PVV party asserted that many soccer clubs with a high number of immigrant members must deal with violence on the field and a shortage of volunteers.
The Councilor of Sports Karsten Klein responded by calling their claim "utter nonsense."
"Violence in soccer is definitely not an immigrant problem, as the Freedom Party would like people to believe," he said. Soccer clubs have to be accessible to everyone, according to Klein.
This recent proposal reflects an ongoing onslaught on traditional Dutch values of tolerance. With a long history of accepting foreigners onto its shores, the Netherlands had forged an international reputation for providing safe haven to immigrants and refugees. The last decades the Dutch have witnessed an erosion of tolerance, both signified and encouraged by the emergence of anti-immigrant political parties.
The PVV is the latest, founded by the outspoken Wilders, and it has gained international media attention as well as seats in the Parliament for its litany of overtly discriminatory positions. Prior to attempting to ban immigrants from soccer clubs, the PVV proposed adding an article to the Dutch constitution stating the cultural supremacy of Christian, Jewish and humanist beliefs and a moratorium on accepting immigrants of non-Western backgrounds into the country. Wilders has also compared the Qu'ran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, and stated that it should be banned.
The conflation of soccer violence with Islamicization and the influence of immigrants along with the proposed ban constitute an absurd attempt to polarize opinion on a topic as localized and unpolitical as amateur sports leagues. Luckily, the Dutch national soccer association, the KNVB disagrees: "Soccer plays a significant role in integration in the Netherlands," it claimed in a statement responding to the ban.