The Orange takes the first step towards the World Cup and shows her opinion of Qatar with a printed shirt

“Football supports change” was written on the shirts worn by the Dutch national team on Saturday, prior to the match against Latvia.Photo: Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

It was actually a special evening in early spring, under the cold, radiant air of Amsterdam. Attendance in the stands in an international match, for the first time in nearly eighteen months in a national team match. Maxim, Stephanie Frappart from France, debuts in Orange. One-way football, rolling past Latvian goalkeeper Uzuls, with very few goals, despite a whole series of chances. And there was interest in Qatar, the controversial country that will host the World Cup in the fall of 2022, which began this evening.

It happened with international players in black jersey, shortly before kick-off, with a ball with open hands, based on the dove of peace that leaves the palms of the hands. In addition, the text: “Football supports change,” is also embroidered on the armband of Captain Georginio Wijnaldum. There is no direct reference to Qatar, but this was mentioned in the statement of the Federal National Council.

The bond is a symbol of attachment, sometimes sadness, and inclusiveness. “We want to become world champions in Qatar,” the statement read. But not without looking outside the box, either. This is why we use our football for a change. KNVB wants to work with other unions to promote, among other things, better working conditions in Qatar, as well as after the World Cup. In Qatar, building the infrastructure for the World Cup may have killed 6,500 spectators since 2010. It’s an almost unimaginable number, especially for those looking around the ring trying to count the heads of 5,000 spectators.

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However, KNVB does not endorse the boycott that many supporters are calling for. The Netherlands prefers to be an important participant and has followed Norway and Germany, who already campaigned in special shirts in the first match last week, to craft their protest. The Norwegians, who surprisingly lost a lot to Turkey at home on Saturday (0-3), intensified their moves against Gibraltar on Wednesday. The Germans against Iceland on Thursday. The question was who would follow the two countries. In other words, the Netherlands. What is certain is that Denmark will follow on Sunday, and maybe Belgium as well.

null Image Jos Dobelman / De Volkskrant
Photo: Guus Dubbelman / de Volkskrant

Fair and passionate football

Football itself was sensible and enthusiastic, with Latvia being seen as one of the least opponents. This is why the score remained so low, and that was somewhat sloppy, because in the end the goal difference could be decisive in a possible qualification. For example, the Netherlands were eliminated in previous World Cup qualifiers by Sweden, which had a better goal difference, while the Netherlands scored four points against the Swedes.

For the world title mentioned in the Qatar statement, much better football, or at least more shooting skills, is needed. After the defeat in Turkey in the match, Latvia was now the opponent – the last time, in 2014, they were defeated 6-0 at the Arena. This could now have been done with 35 attempts. Defended, with many chances, with Davy Klasen and Luuk de Jong’s header against the crossbar before halftime. With one goal before the end of the first half, like this exemplary shot by Stephen Burgess, from the right of center, in the far corner, after dribbling by Frenkie de Jong and a drop by Davy Klasen.

But she only stayed 1-0 in the second half, and football became more and more turbulent and less accurate. The score was only dropped 2-0 in the 69th minute, with a powerful header from Luc de Jong from a corner kick from Memphis Depay. Especially Davy Claassen, with Ajax often goalscorer, squandered chances. It was nearly impossible to keep track of how many times the ball had missed the goal. On the other hand, from a rare breakthrough, the Ciganiks shot the post.

That small number of goals was a little disappointing above, although it made a lot of noise, these 5,000 enthusiasts in the stands. The tickets available soon sold out to those regular supporters of Orange, whom you can call loyal and sometimes a little special. With kids writing on a board of cardboard at home that they want a frenkie shirt, with men in a wig beginning fifteen minutes into the singing that Donnie Van de Beek has to fill in, and who only got into the field at the final stage.

Then there was the scoop on Judgment by Stephanie Frappart. She didn’t stand out at all, which is a good indication of the verdict. The Netherlands finishes hat-trick after a defeat by Turkey and a win over Latvia on Tuesday in a match away to Gibraltar over the weakest country in the group. The rest of the World Cup matches will only start in September. The first European Nations Championship.

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