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Developing football in the Netherlands

When it comes to football pioneers, few nations can match the Dutch and their ingenuity has had a profound impact on the game at home and throughout Europe.


The KNVB has been working towards three main strategic goals for the 2018–2022 period:

1. Designing high-quality football propositions for every player from grassroots to the professional game.
2. Providing every player at each level with access to a qualified coach.
3. Enhancing the participation and involvement of women in the game.

So far, the following results have been achieved:

High-quality football products

  • Introduction of ‘4 phase-football’ at the youngest level, creating four periods throughout the season that continually enhance the equality of opposition, the development of individual players and as a result, their perceived pleasure of the game.
  • Development of the eQuality index, a data-based prediction of the strength of teams in order to create more competitive balance throughout the leagues.
  • Launch of several new products, responding to a more 'demand-centric' and flexible way of playing the game e.g. 7 vs 7 adult games.

Competent coaches

  • An annual programme to educate and assist first-time youth coaches. It offers all new coaches a set of tools to best fulfil their role.
  • The evolution of Rinus, the online assistant coach for all youth coaches.

Women in football

  • Introduction of a development programme to enhance the status, policies and quality of women’s football within clubs.
  • A programme to increase the number of women’s coaches, referees, volunteers and board members.

UEFA support

How UEFA is helping develop Dutch football

With the help of UEFA’s HatTrick development programme, the KNVB created a hub for the national game at Zeist. The KNVB Football Campus was opened with three specific purposes:

  • To host training camps of all national teams;
  • To develop football knowledge through performance analysis;
  • To foster education and development by offering education and conferences.

The campus now consists of specific facilities for:

  • Training and research (playing fields, indoor hall, performance facilities)
  • Sports medical centre (treatment and research on players)
  • Education (meeting and lodging facilities)
  • Offices (the KNVB, professional league and other football organisations)

UEFA Foundation for Children in the Netherlands

Set up in 2015, the UEFA Foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.

Het Gehandicapte Kind foundation

There are more than 100,000 disabled children in the Netherlands. Exercise is very important to improve their health, independence and self-confidence. The Het Gehandicapte Kind foundation believes that all children should be able to share the same dreams and playing for their favourite football club is one those.

In 2019, the Het Gehandicapte Kind foundation kicked off the world’s first official football competition for disabled children: Bijzondere Eredivisie. Children with a disability are given the opportunity to join a professional football club and play the sport they love. Playing sport helps them become socially included, build friendships and boost their self-confidence. Ten football clubs competed in the first season: Ajax, ADO Den Haag, De Graafschap, Excelsior, FC Emmen, FC Groningen, FC Utrecht, Heracles Almelo, SC Heerenveen and VVV Venlo.


Association history

1889: Pim Mulier, a 24-year-old Dutchman, founds the Nederlandse Voetbal en Atletiek Bond (NVAB) in The Hague, with nine clubs signing up.
1897/98: After a few seasons of ad hoc matches, the launch of the Nederlandse Voetbalbond (NVB) heralds a more organised competition.
1904: The KNVB joins FIFA as a founder member of the world governing body, and a year later the Netherlands play their first official international, against Belgium.
1929: On its 40th birthday, the association receives the designation of 'Koninklijke' (Royal) from the queen, thus becoming the Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond (KNVB).
1954: KNVB merge with NBVB, signalling the arrival of professionalism.
1970s: Great emergence of Dutch ‘Total Football’ through the likes of Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels, with clubs winning UEFA trophies (including three European Cups in a row for Ajax) and the national team reaching two FIFA World Cup finals.
1978: KNVB registers one millionth member.
2000: The Netherlands co-hosts UEFA EURO 2000 alongside neighbours Belgium.
2007: Investment in women's football throughout the decade culminates in establishment of a women's Eredivisie.
Amateur clubs now able to be promoted to the professional ranks and professional clubs are at risk of relegation into amateur leagues.
2022: The KNVB hosts the UEFA Futsal EURO, its first major international tournament since 2000, with venues in Groningen and Amsterdam.

National team competitions

The high point of Dutch football is the EURO success in 1988
The high point of Dutch football is the EURO success in 1988©empics

1908: Men’s team appear at first major international tournament, finishing third at the Olympic Games in London.
1934: Play in their first FIFA World Cup, being eliminated in the first round, suffering the same fate four years later.
1971: Played the first international women's match recognised by FIFA against France.
Wonderfully entertaining and inventive Dutch side sweep aside the likes of Brazil and Argentina to reach World Cup final – but lose 2-1 to hosts Germany despite taking an early lead.
1976: Finish third at European Championships.
1978: Again reach World Cup final against the hosts but lose out to Argentina in extra time.
1988: After a barren run in the 1980s, a new generation of top players come through resulting in the Oranje winning the European Championship with a 2-0 win against the Soviet Union – the second goal, Marco van Basten’s volley, considered one of the greatest ever scored.
1990s: Reach the semi-finals of EURO ’92, the quarters of both the 1994 World Cup and EURO ’96 and the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup.
2000: Lose out to Italy on home soil in the semi-finals of EURO 2000.
2000s: Again reach EURO semis in 2004 and the quarters four years later.
2009: Qualify for UEFA Women's EURO 2013 and finish third.
Reach third men's World Cup final but lose out to Spain in extra time.
2014: Another semi-final appearance at the World Cup for the men.
2017: Win Women's EURO 2017 as hosts.
Finish as runners-up at the 2019 Women's World Cup.
After missing out on two straight international tournaments, men qualify for EURO 2020.

Just Spee
Just Spee©KNVB Media


Just Spee

Nationality: Dutch
Date of birth: 12 January 1965
Association president since: December 2019


Gijs de Jong
Gijs de Jong©KNVB

General secretary

Gijs de Jong

Nationality: Dutch
Date of birth: 24 July 1972
Association general secretary since: 2017 

Royal Netherlands Football Association website