AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands assistant coach Marco van Basten is to give up the role by the end of the year as the leadership crisis surrounding the side took another twist on Tuesday, a week before the Dutch kick off their 2018 World Cup campaign.
Van Basten 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 head coach of Turkish side Fenerbahce. The Dutch football association (KNVB) confirmed the 51-year-old’s impending exit on Tuesday, saying Van Basten 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 programs,” Van Basten said in a KNVB statement.
“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, who had asked another former European Footballer of the Year, Ruud Gullit, to assist him, only for negotiations to break down. The acrimonious fallout between Gullit and the KNVB has since dominated Dutch sports pages at a time when the team are hoping to make a positive start to World Cup qualifying after the disappointment of missing the Euro 2016 finals in France.
The Netherlands start their campaign to reach the 2018 World Cup finals 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. However, 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 something that is tailor made for Marco. Even though it means I have to find another successor, it is a great opportunity for him,” Blind said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O'Brien