Press Review Wednesday 8 February 2012

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

Skating-marathon madness continues to dominate the Dutch press, but there’s a big euro-crisis story around as well. Internet piracy is put under the spotlight and a court gives a fillip to a football hero’s fight.

There’s no getting away from the Eleven Cities Tour in the papers again today. Every one of the front pages devotes space to the question of whether or not the outdoor 200-km skating marathon in the northern province of Friesland will actually take place. “Thaw expected: time’s pressing”, worries de Volkskrant on its front page.

You have to turn all the way to page 10 in AD to get to any other news at all, and just small articles at that. This is ‘Tour-of-Tours’ skating madness indeed. Just imagine what it’s going to be like if a date is actually set for the race to take place.

More Tour madness
AD wins the race as far as coverage goes: “Coming Weekend?” asks its first headline, and we’re told that “the omens are pointing to Saturday or Sunday” as the day the tour could be held. The headlines continue: “Friesland declares war on snow” is illustrated by photographs of well-wrapped up hordes, clearing the ice-harming snow from the route the race will take (if it ever gets to be held, that is).

The paper reports another good omen: Crown Prince Willem-Alexander’s car has been sighted in Friesland. The loyal rag reminds us that His Royal Highness took part as an incognito skater in the 1986 edition of the Eleven Cities Tour – under the pseudonym W.A. van Buren. A local news station reckons he’s been skating along some of the course.

The tour may be happening (or not) in Friesland (which has its own separate language and culture), but we’re still talking about the Dutch - known for their thriftiness and penchant for turning anything into a nice little earner. The headline, “It’s about… sales”, reminds us of this fact. Underneath, AD says that, if the Eleven Cities Tour is held, it’ll bring in 50 to 100 million euros to the local economy.

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Greece can go overboard
There is real news around, however, and de Volkskrant devotes most of its front page to telling us we’re being softened up for an exit of Greece from the euro. Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes told the paper yesterday that there’s “absolutely no man overboard” if one country is expelled from the single currency.

The paper says Brussels wasted no time in calling her to order. The official EU line remains that Greece has to be saved no matter what. But apparently the Dutch government agrees with Ms Kroes that it’s not going to be the end of the world if Greece is kicked out of the euro.

“We’ve implemented all sorts of measures over the last year and a half,” Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager has told MPs. “This means that the risks are far, far smaller now if Greece does leave the Eurozone.”

Trouw agrees that the taboo about Greece exiting the single currency has been broken and quotes Mr De Jager at length: “The possibility of Greek bankruptcy brought with it too great a risk for banks, governments and pension funds. A parting of the ways still won’t be free of charge, but it won’t be Armageddon.”

Meanwhile, points up the human cost of the whole sorry story, illustrating it with photographs of beggars on the streets of Athens. Greek doctors returning home from working in third world countries warn that Greece is “at the start of a humanitarian disaster”.

We’re all pirates
“Without piracy there would have been no Age of Enlightenment” is the headline to’s main story today. It picks up on the decision of Dutch internet providers Ziggo and xs4all to block free-download site The Pirate Bay, after a Dutch court ordered the move.

The paper trails an international congress being held in The Hague later this week on copyright “in these chaotic internet times”. But who are these internet pirates? “We all are”, the paper says, answering its own question. Even the most law-abiding citizens are happy to sit down to watch an illicitly downloaded episode of Mad Men, says

Internet piracy is apparently even more an ingrained part of life in India, Latin America and Africa, where it is a major part of the shadow economy. In these countries, the paper argues, it plays as important a role in society as the illegal printing of books did in the West hundreds of years ago.

Without the piracy of books, tells us, there would have been no French Revolution and the United States would not have developed into the economic superpower it now is. Piracy is now being cursed as a plague of industry, but it has proved its worth throughout history, thinks the paper.

No final whistle yet
“I’ll only believe it’s over when it’s over”, De Telegraaf quotes Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff as saying in response to the news that an Amsterdam court has taken his side in the saga of his rift with the management at his old club, Amsterdam’s Ajax. As the story takes yet another turn, one is tempted to agree with him.

In the latest twist, the court has ruled invalid the decision taken behind his back by Cruyff’s four “colleague” members of Ajax’ supervisory board to appoint the football star’s arch-rival Louis van Gaal as the troubled club’s general manager.

“I’ve got nothing against Van Gaal,” Cruyff tells De Telegraaf, “but we’ve taken a new course at Ajax and he doesn’t fit in with it. It’s about the way the game is played.”

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