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Dutch teens charged in linesman's death

December 4, 2012 -- Updated 2243 GMT (0643 HKT)
 A file photo of a linesman raising his flag during a soccer match.
A file photo of a linesman raising his flag during a soccer match.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three Dutch teenagers charged with manslaughter following death of a soccer official
  • Assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen was beaten up by three teen players
  • He had been officiating during an amateur game involving his club Buitenboys
  • The trio were arrested at their Amsterdam home on Sunday, according to reports

(CNN) -- The Netherlands is reeling from the death of a volunteer soccer official at an amateur football match over the weekend which has led to three Dutch teenagers being charged with manslaughter.

Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old -- all Amsterdam club Nieuw Sloten players -- were arrested and charged by Dutch police after the death of a 41-year-old linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen, who was beaten by players following a match against his club Buitenboys in the city of Almere.

Nieuwenhuizen's son was playing in the match when the incident occurred.

"Two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old from Amsterdam, under suspicion of seriously assaulting a 41-year-old linesman of the Buitenboys from Almere, will on Thursday appear before a judge at the Almere court," the prosecutor's office said.

"The suspects will appear on charges of manslaughter, assault and public violence."

The judge will now decide whether to keep the three youths in detention in Amsterdam.

Nieuwenhuizen is the second man to die during an amateur football game following the death of a 77-year-old, who was the victim of a karate kick by a 32-year-old footballer during a game on December 3 2011.

At a press conference, Bernard Fransen, president of KNVB amateur football, said he was "very shocked" by the tragic incident.

"Amateur football matches will be canceled this weekend and a minute's silence will be observed during professional football matches," he told reporters.

Nieuwenhuizen's death has resonated across the globe with FIFA president Sepp Blatter extending his condolences.

"Football is a mirror of society and sadly, the same ills that afflict society -- in this case violence -- also manifest themselves in our game," said Blatter, according to a statement on fifa.com.

"Nevertheless, I remain convinced that football -- through the example set by the tireless efforts of people like Mr Nieuwenhuizen -- is a force for good, and we must continue to use its positive example to educate people against these wrongs."

On its website Nieuw Sloten said it was "deeply shocked" by Nieuwenhuizen's death, adding that it would ban for life the players found to be responsible, as well pulling its team from the league and temporarily suspending all operations as a club.

"Violence should not be on the football fields," said a statement on the Nieuw Sloten website.

"And certainly not against referees, linesmen and all those others who volunteer each year to help over a million amateur footballers. We must do everything possible to eliminate these excesses.

Nieuwenhuizen was pronounced dead at 5.30 p.m. local time on Monday in the hospital of Nieuwegein, according to his club Buitenboys.

"Buitenboys wish the family much strength with this loss," said the Buitenboys website.

"The Dutch Football Association is deeply shocked. After intervention of the police and the arrival of an ambulance, he was in critical condition and transported to a hospital. There he died Monday afternoon," reported the website of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB).

The KNVB's director of amateur football, Anton Binnenmars, added: "Let me, on behalf of the entire KNVB and all its members, offer my sympathy to the families and friends of the victim. It is outrageous that someone enjoying a hobby can be victim of such aggression."

Despite a population of 17.5 million, Holland has built an outstanding reputation for developing young footballers over the years, with its amateur youth clubs providing a strong breeding ground for the country's professional clubs.

All amateur football has been cancelled this weekend in Holland.

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