Van Basten to leave Dutch side for Fifa job

AMSTERDAM • Marco van Basten will give up his role as the Netherlands' assistant coach by the end of the year as the leadership crisis surrounding the side took another twist yesterday, a week before the Dutch kick off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 51-year-old is the second of Danny Blind's assistants to announce their departure in the last two weeks after Dick Advocaat opted to take over as manager of Turkish side Fenerbahce.

The Dutch football association (KNVB) confirmed van Basten's impending exit yesterday, saying he was leaving to start work with the sport's global governing body.

"Fifa have offered me a chance to work in the development and reform of football, and to use my ideas and opinions over issues like playing rules, refereeing and development programmes," van Basten said. "I have agreed with Danny Blind to stay as an assistant until the end of the year."

The loss of his deputy is the latest blow for Blind. The national team coach had asked another former European Footballer of the Year, Ruud Gullit, to assist him, only for negotiations to break down.

The Netherlands start their campaign to reach the 2018 World Cup away at Sweden next Tuesday.

Advocaat and van Basten are both former national team coaches in their own right and were expected to form a powerful support team for Blind.

But Advocaat left after just three months and van Basten's impending departure is a further blow.

"Of course I'm not happy but the Fifa job is ideal for Marco. Even though it means I have to find another successor, it is a great opportunity for him," Blind said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Van Basten to leave Dutch side for Fifa job'. Print Edition | Subscribe