Amateur football clubs used for pushing drugs: report


Amateur football clubs are an asset for criminals, who use them for money laundering, drug dealing, and creating an image of prestige and power in a neighborhood or town, according to a recent study by Tilburg University. Five football clubs from Zeeland and Noord-Brabant suspect that criminals are trying to infiltrate their club, according to the researchers, AD reports. 

The Brabant Task Force against drug crime is shocked by the results of the study, but knows of several examples of criminals using football clubs. For example, in Noord-Brabant a football coach used his players to deal drugs, and the sponsor of an Eindhoven club is suspected of money laundering. 

"The football club is a public relations machine for organized crime", Paul Depla, mayor of Breda and board member of the Task Force, said to the newspaper. According to him, criminals buy prestige and power through the idea that whoever does something good for society - like financially supporting a local football club - is probably also a good person. In this way criminals also win over young players, Depla said. "It can easily happen that a player is asked if he would deliver a package for a hundred euros."

Football club Baronie in Breda, which is struggling financially, received a sponsorship offer of up to 50 thousand euros annually at the start of this year. "I heard by phone that 10 parties wanted to be on board", chairman Stan Gielen said to AD. "We made an appointment in a hotel to discuss things. The potential sponsor never showed up. Perhaps because I told him that our treasurer was a former chartered accountant and I was a tax inspector myself."

Two years ago around 100 kilograms of hard drugs were found in the canteen of a football club in Steenbergen. "At the time we had gone into business with a dodgy manager of the canteen. We were quite shocked by that", secretary Wim van der Wegen said to the newspaper when asked about the matter. "But that had nothing to do with sponsoring. We check all our sponsors at the Chamber of Commerce. There is nothing wrong here. The club's existed for 85 years, there's only been one incident with a bad canteen manager."

Club RKSV Halteren told the newspaper that it is extra cautious about bringing in sponsors. Peter Smeters of football club Una from Veldhoven called it important that clubs not be dependent on one big sponsor. The four football clubs in Veldhoven intensified their cooperation in the fight against dodgy sponsors. "We want to arm ourselves together against criminal interference, among other things. Policy is in the making."