‘We think he’s a nice guy, but he seems against it’

Monday, April 4, 2022 at 09:28

There is sound at the table in the talk show Studio Football of the NOS criticism of the state of affairs surrounding the gambling affair involving Tom Beugelsdijk, Aaron Meijers and Jordy Clasie, among others. The pair of Sparta Rotterdam players hit this week after reporting from the General Newspaper discredited for their involvement in the illegal gambling company Edobet. Arno Vermeulen and Pierre van Hooijdonk think that Sparta should have acted harder.

“This is very bad news for football,” Vermeulen begins when the topic is broached in the talk show. “It is bloody linked that the underworld infiltrates the upper world, because when it takes root like that, you can no longer trust anything. It is incomprehensible that as a football player you take shares in a gambling site with your so-called full sense, while they are warned so much. The players mentioned have been involved in gambling in several ways before.” Beugelsdijk was previously suspected of having committed spot fixing, by intentionally taking a yellow card. Clasie was suspended for two games last year after betting on matches in the Dutch league.

Players are allowed to gamble, just not on the Dutch league. “This is constantly repeated in contract negotiations. I called a number of organisations, the KNVB, the clubs and the players, who say: ‘We have to invest more in that, we are going to write down even better in the contracts what is not allowed. But we really need to improve our coaching from football’. We’re talking about gambling now, but things go wrong in other areas as well. Players who are in contact with the criminal world. Clubs have watched from a distance, but they will have to give better guidance to young players with often far too much money who can be influenced.”

Images are then shown of statements by Henk Fraser, who drew a parallel between the reporting about Meijers and Beugelsdijk and so-called juice channels: platforms that spread gossip about famous people. “I would like to come by for a cup of coffee to explain the difference,” Vermeulen responds to Fraser’s statements. “We’re talking about investigative journalists who do a fantastic job. They find out everything, call a lot of people, do research, check it again and publish after months. He now lumps that together and that is painful, a mistake by Henk Fraser. Actually, that shouldn’t happen to him, that’s bad.”

“I think they are trying to take the pressure off and they want to create a kind of calm in the fight against relegation. Van: it has touched us, but we now want peace to focus on football and stay in the Eredivisie. I think they may not choose the right words, but that’s what they want to do,” says Theo Janssen. Beugelsdijk came in as a substitute in the game against sc Heerenveen (1-1) on Sunday and was also immediately given the captain’s armband as a replacement for Adil Auassar.

“It’s quite different…”, Van Hooijdonk adds. “Beugelsdijk sat on the bench. That’s possible, because he suffered a concussion two weeks ago. Then he comes in and also gets the captain’s armband. You shouldn’t want that as a club. I understand that Sparta thinks: we should not be relegated and we need Beugelsdijk and Meijers to realize that. We all think he’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t seem to mind.”

Vermeulen states that more will soon be published about ‘Beugelsdijk and others’. “It turns out that a lot of football players are involved. That list is only getting longer, especially from The Hague,” says Vermeulen. Janssen then points out that football and gambling are fairly intertwined. “In the past, when I got to the first one, they were already behind the slot machine. If you are going to earn a lot of money in one go when you are still young, you don’t really know what to do with it. If you start on a locker, you might go to the casino and so on. We don’t know what situation those guys are in. Maybe they thought they could make some money that quickly and easily.”

“You understand that when you get involved in gambling, you’re on the wrong side,” Van Hooijdonk responds. “If you’re on the wrong side, you’re on the wrong side. I think that as a KNVB you have to act hard. I think Sparta should also have acted hard, assuming the players are guilty. If so, there is only one way: exit from football.” Beugelsdijk and Meijers can be punished if FIFA opens an investigation. In that case, they face a minimum fine of 100,000 Swiss francs and a maximum ban of three years.