Former youth football players report being sexually abused at two Dutch clubs

Football. ()

Two former football players at PSV and Vitesse reported to the professional football organizations that they were sexually abused while playing at the Dutch clubs in their youths. This is the first time that victims of sexual abuse in Dutch professional clubs are coming forward, according to

The former PSV player reports being abused in the 60's. According to the victim, a man involved in the youth training sexually abused him for years, starting when he was 8-years-old. This often happened after training in a forest near the club's youth complex. According to the former player, who asked to remain anonymous, it is not unlikely that other young players were abused by the same man. The victim contacted PSV after a call on victims to do so in Dutch media. This was the first time PSV heard about the abuse. The football club called on other victims to come forward, contacting either the club itself or the NOC/NSF committee currently investigating sexual abuse and harassment in sport.

The Vitesse case was more recent. In 1996 a 12-year-old youth player was sexually assaulted and held against his will for a whole night by the leader of the C1 team. The incident was kept secret at the request of the Arnhem club. According to a Vitesse manager, the club wanted to protect the privacy of the victim. "But I would be lying if I said that the image of the club did not play a role in that decision." The perpetrator was immediately suspended and later fired. He was also given a six week prison sentence, which was conditionally suspended. 

On Saturday the general directors of both clubs told the Volkskrant that they've apologized to the victims. They deplore what happened to them and call on other victims to come forward. Both clubs plan to use the victims' experiences to help protect current and future youth players against similar events. 

"Above all this is terrible for the victim", Toon Gerbrands, general director at PSV said, according to "Indescribable harm was done to him. We greatly respect that the now took the step to tell us his story. It is naive to assume that such things do not happen today. At PSV we organizationally created a situation that must help prevent this type of crime." According to PSV, the victim agreed to share his story to the club's persons of trust. "An extraordinary gesture. We will certainly make use of it. It will help us recognize signals that point to problems." Gerbrands said.

"We feel responsible for the victim's situation", Joost de Wit, general director aat Vitesse, said. In consultation with the victim, it was decided that he will act as a Vitesse ambassador. He will give information on issues that youth football players could face, such as sexual abuse. 

Dutch national football association KNVB is "severely affected" by these revelations, KNVB Director of Operational Affairs Gijs de Jong said to the Volkskrant. "The experiences of past victims can contribute to a better approach to sexual abuse in sport. We there call on them to come forward."