Story about sexual abuse of Dutch football expert on live TV leads to national outrage | The Netherlands

The Netherlands has once again been forced to question attitudes to sexual violence against women after one of the country’s most famous football pundits appeared to admit live on air 50 years ago of attacking an unconscious woman with a candle.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has started an investigation after 73-year-old Johan Derksen made the comments on Tuesday in the talk show Today Inside, to the entertainment of presenter Wilfred Genee and fellow expert René van der Gijp.

The former player, who is one of the Netherlands’ most famous TV personalities, tried to go back on his statement the next day, claiming that the candle was only placed close to the unnamed woman’s legs.

But he has declined to apologize for the comments, saying only that he had been unclear and told the story of a drunken night five decades ago “in the wrong tone”.

In response to the outcry, Derksen added: “There is no place for a Johan Derksen in the Netherlands.”

A spokesperson for the Dutch prosector bureau said that the chief public prosecutor of the Northern Netherlands service had opened an investigation.

“This investigation is aimed at uncovering the truth of possible criminal behavior that has been discussed in that program,” they said. “We also appeal to those involved to tell their story, as far as possible. Obviously, this is highly unacceptable behavior that crosses boundaries.

“In addition, the way it is talked about in the TV program is also very hurtful. This can deeply affect victims of sex crimes, even after a long time.”

The case is quickly coming on the back of claims of widespread sexual abuse on the Dutch version of The Voice, which has raised questions about attitudes to sexual exploitation and violence against women in the country.

Two in three women in the Netherlands reported having been harassed on Dutch streets in 2021, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands.

Both Today Inside and The Voice Holland are produced by the media company Talpa, led by John de Mol, founder of the Big Brother franchise.

Talpa had said that the presenters would apologize for their comments on Thursday, but it later turned out that Derksen had stopped.

Derksen is said to have told reporters: “We would offer our sincere apologies and then they would decide to continue the program. We are not here to pass an apology exam. Kiss my ass.”

During the program, which was watched by 600,000 viewers, Derksen had told what he would later call a ‘child sin’ in 1971, when he would have been 22.

He said: “I was out with the keeper of Veendam, with two ladies. We’re drunk, we go to that house and those ladies are so drunk, they puke all over us. Then I remember – and I’m not proud of it, but things like that happen when you’re young – that lady was lying unconscious on one of those couches and there was a big candle and we put it in it and then we left.”

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