‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Salomon Kalou’s dream of representing Holland in the up-and-coming World Cup are in tatters after Dutch Alien Affairs Minister Verdonk’s latest decision on the player’s fast-track naturalisation request. ‘She has set him stipulations that are impossible to meet in such a short space of time,’ says Kalou’s disappointed legal counsel Jelle Kroes. ‘It would appear that the prevailing laws in Holland are not applicable to Mrs Verdonk.’
National coach Marco van Basten was also frustrated. ‘First and foremost it is of course a shame most for Salomon himself. I know how much he wanted to play for Holland this summer at the World Cup. I myself would have liked to work with him. We will now have to be more patient.’
Speaking through his lawyer Jelle Kroes Salomon Kalou has articulated his opinion that the matter is not over yet. ‘We expect without a doubt that Salomon can still become a Dutch national. Mrs Verdonk has said herself that Salomon will ultimately be eligible for a Dutch passport. Today she writes that she would like to fast-track Salomon’s application, but only after the World Cup. We have pointed out that the law is precisely intended for such a World Cup. Verdonk has now declared the appeal unfounded. It’s a riddle.’
‘It is striking that Salomon first has to pass the naturalisation test,’ continues Kroes. ‘The reason the minister gives for that is that as an elite sportsman, he is a role modal. All elite sportspeople that want to take Dutch nationality must apparently first pass the naturalisation test, even though Section 10 precisely affords the opportunity to deviate from that in the case of elite sportspeople. In my opinion that is new policy. You can always make new policy, but you cannot apply it to cases in progress. The minister should know that. We are incidentally supported in this view by various legal experts.’
Minister Verdonk’s decision to deny Salomon Kalou fast-track naturalisation has twice been overturned. Both the Rotterdam Court and the Council of State ruled that the minister’s opinions in the case are wrong. Verdonk responded by expressing her intention to continue to fight her corner by setting a number of unrealistic demands that the youngster must fulfil. By putting that intention into practice she has effectively delayed Kalou’s naturalisation until 2009 at the earliest.
The player’s legal team is however still optimistic that the situation can still be saved. ‘There are still some legal means at our disposal,’ says Jelle Kroes. ‘We can still be proved right by the administrative court. I am certainly not ruling out that path, but the decision is ultimately Salomon’s.’