Shock after linesman dies following brutal attack while officiating youth match in Dutch league

Three teenagers arrested in connection with incident

The normally tolerant world of Dutch football was in a state of shock today following the death of a Sunday youth league linesman from injuries he sustained from being attacked and savagely beaten by a group of teenage football players.

Forty one year-old Richard Nieuwenhuizen collapsed and was taken to hospital hours after being beaten by three players from the Amsterdam youth club Nieuw Sloten.

Doctors said they had been unable to save his life and he died on Monday.

Mr Nieuwenhuizen had been officiating in a match against the rival Buitenboys club in the town of Almere and one of his own sons had been playing.

Police said three teenagers aged between 15 and 16 had been arrested in connection with his death.

“It is unbelievable that something like this can happen,” said Marcel Oost, chairman of the Buitenboys club.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is among those to express their shock at the incident.

"I would like to express my sadness and distress on hearing of the death of assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen," he said.

"I was deeply shocked to learn of this tragic incident.

"Football is a mirror of society and sadly, the same ills that afflict society - in this case violence - also manifest themselves in our game.

"Nevertheless, I remain convinced that football - through the example set by the tireless efforts of people like Mr Nieuwenhuizen - is a force for good, and we must continue use its positive example to educate people against these wrongs."

All amateur games in the Netherlands have been called off this weekend while the top two divisions, including the Eredivisie, will have a minute silence before matches. Players will wear black armbands.

Buitenboys announced the linesman's death on Twitter last night.

"With great sadness we announce the death of our Buitenboys linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen. Our thoughts are with his family," it said.

"Our linesman Richard died at 17:30 in front of his family. This violence must stop on the pitch! #stopsenselessviolence."

Following the incident Nieuw-Sloten, who are based in Amsterdam, have banned all the players involved in the incident, withdrawn from the league in which the game took place and temporarily suspended all their operations as a club.

A statement on the club's website read: "The board of sv Nieuw-Sloten learned with horror of the death of the linesman of Buitenboys. We are deeply shocked by the fact that the match on Sunday degenerated so badly, with this result.

"We express here our sympathy, firstly to the family of the deceased person. Words fail us. In addition, we also express our sympathy to the Buitenboys club and all its members.

"We distance ourselves strongly from the behaviour of the players who are responsible. As an association, when we were aware of wrongdoing, we apologised to Buitenboys.

"For our club, this is a huge shock, an event that touches all of our members. Violence should not be on the football fields, and certainly not against referees, linesmen and all those others who volunteer each year to enable over a million amateur footballers to play. We must do everything possible to eliminate these excesses.

"Nieuw-Sloten is an association with many youth members. Fair play standards and values are of paramount importance to us and we support the campaign by the KNVB against violence on the field.

"We will of course fully co-operate with the police investigation. We believe that those who are responsible for this act should be punished.

"We decided yesterday to take the team concerned out of the KNVB competition. Also, the persons to our knowledge responsible for this beating were immediately removed and can never become a member of our association.

"Obviously, the police are investigating the incident. We will report these persons to the KNVB once their involvement is officially determined to ensure a lifetime expulsion.

"For now we have suspended all our activities as a club. The training of all our teams for this week has been cancelled. After consultation with the KNVB, we have decided out of respect for the family of the victim that our teams will play no matches this weekend."