Saturday 24 Feb 2018 | 15:07 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Feb 2018 | 15:07 | SYDNEY

Holland's death wish



18 June 2008 11:37

By rights, the fact that the Dutch football team has just secured a third thumping victory in the European Championships and is now raging hot favourite to win the tournament should excite no comment on this blog. But luckily for this Dutch football tragic, there is a political angle that justifies my writing about it here. It explains why, eventually and inevitably, Holland will lose:

Political scientist Paul Scheffer sees a 'clear, consistent pattern of self-destruction in our football' and diagnoses a particular Dutch neurosis about national identity as the problem: 'The Dutch take an almost nationalistic pride in denying that we have a national identity. We like to think of ourselves as an open, trading nation, a transparent crossing-point, a place mediating between our neighbours. We are world travellers, international traders who have overcome nationalism and made the nation-state obsolete...The art of being Dutch is to transform our vulnerability into moral superiority. We are small and we lack power, but we think the whole world will adopt us as a model of enlightenment. We have such a strong sense of moral superiority that it's not so important to us if we win or lose...When we lose, it's always because of 'brutal force'...which is simply not relevant to us because we are playing a different, better, higher game, which the referee also happens not to understand. We don't lower ourselves to your level, but if it makes you happy to destroy our elegance, then go ahead!'

That's from Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football.

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