Netherlands coach Frank de Boer attempted to put days of critical media coverage behind him on Sunday with an appeal for a focus on football as his team prepare for the European Championship.
The Dutch squad have been embroiled in a controversy over Covid-19 vaccinations, which up to six players refused to have, while De Boer was criticised for getting his facts wrong at his team announcement last week and for saying he had personally broken the bad news to players culled from the preliminary squad when it turned out he had not called all of them.
“It was not my finest press conference,” De Boer told Dutch television NOS on Sunday. “And with that, I’d like to let it go. Let us now focus on the football.”
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Last Wednesday, De Boer said up to six Dutch players had not taken up an opportunity to get vaccinated, setting off a storm of criticism in the country.
He was accused of being “sloppy” in several newspaper articles for his performance at the conference.
His claim to have called those players who were dropped from his initial selection proved untrue when video emerged of Anwar El Ghazi of Aston Villa receiving his bad news by text message.
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De Boer was also picked up for saying Donny van de Beek had played some 4,000 minutes with Manchester United this season when in fact it was less than 1,500.
“That I got the data on Donny wrong really was not that bad. It just shows I’m getting older,” De Boer quipped.
If I don’t have my contact lenses in I often have to put on the light on my mobile phone to be able to better see things. But I should have done better."
On the coronavirus vaccine, De Boer said last Wednesday was the only day available for players and staff to have the vaccine because he did not want any after-effects to impact on the team’s preparations.
“Everyone makes his own decision. I, for example, was vaccinated and if that serves as a good example to others, then great. But everyone is free to decide, as it is for everyone in the Netherlands. We want to close this subject now and talk solely about the Euros. We want to focus now on the tournament,” De Boer said.
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