Dutch teen footballers jailed for kicking linesman to death

LELYSTAD, The Netherlands Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:28am EDT

Michael van Praag, president of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), places flowers on the pitch of the soccer club Buitenboys after attending a silent march to commemorate linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen in Almere December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

Michael van Praag, president of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), places flowers on the pitch of the soccer club Buitenboys after attending a silent march to commemorate linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen in Almere December 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

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LELYSTAD, The Netherlands (Reuters) - A Dutch court found six teenage footballers and a player's father guilty on Monday of beating an amateur linesman to death, an incident that shocked the nation and prompted soul-searching over soccer violence and race.

Linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen, 41, was attacked by the soccer players - mostly of Moroccan origin - while he was officiating at an under-17 match at Almere, near Amsterdam.

Nieuwenhuizen was kicked repeatedly by the youth players, who were 15 and 16 years old at the time, and the adult who had been on the sidelines. He collapsed hours after the match and was taken to hospital where he went into a coma and died the following day.

The incident was seized upon by the anti-Muslim party of Geert Wilders who said the death was "not a football problem, but a Moroccan problem".

The adult was jailed for six years and the minors received sentences of between 12 and 24 months' youth detention. An eighth suspect was acquitted.

The management of the team the footballers played for, Nieuw Sloten Amsterdam, said it was "deeply shocked" by what had happened and intended to ban for life any players responsible.

(Editing by Sara Webb and Robin Pomeroy)

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