Vitesse shocks Dutch football, winning first cup in 125 years

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Arnhem professional football club Vitesse won 2-0 against Alkmaar’s AZ in the KNVB Cup final at De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam Sunday night, a historical win for the team which had not won a major tournament or league in its club history. The team from will celebrate its 125th anniversary on May 14. No professional football club has suffered a drought as long as Vitesse.

As Cup winner, Vitesse gets to face off against the upcoming national champion, which is likely to be Feyenoord, for the Johan Cruijff Shield on August 5th. Vitesse is currently ranked sixth in the Eredivisie.

Additionally, the Cup victory automatically qualifies Vitesse for the group phase of the Europa League next season. This alone is already worth a 2.6-million euros starting premium, plus UEFA’s variable contribution of 1.5-million euros per participating club and additional earnings from the extra matches. This will be especially useful for the club, which is still operating with millions in losses every year, even though manager Joost de Wit is continuously making cutbacks in several departments.

Vitesse player Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who scored both goals in the last ten minutes of the match, will be joining the club for the Europa League matches in the upcoming season. The striker is determined to stick with Arnhem, telling the Algemeen Dagblad, “Of course. I want to head to Europa and preferably with Vitesse. I signed here for multiple years to create something special. This is a great first step, but Vitesse is not finished yet.”

Vitesse's owner, Russian businessman Alexander Chigirinskiy, is not often available to attend his club's matches in person, although he says he makes sure to watch every game. He regrettably announced he could not be present at the Cup final in an open letter to the team's management, De Gelderlander reported. "My heart and thoughts will be in Rotterdam. In light of our 125-year anniversary, it would be an incredible feeling to win a prize. I hope we will pass this test together and that we will prove our ambitions as a club for the future."

Many Vitesse supporters opted to watch the match at home instead of travelling to Rotterdam, but this did not diminish the excitement. Hundreds of football fans gathered on Arnhem’s Markt square to view the game on a large screen.

Vitesse’s players will be officially honored on the Markt following a tour through the city on Monday night.

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