After two weeks of controversy, HCC and VOC Rotterdam have both elected to withdraw from the playoff phase of the Topklasse, citing the greater interests of Dutch cricket. The decision leaves Punjab Rotterdam and Voorburg CC to contest the preliminary final this Sunday, with the winner of that match going on to host the final a week later. Meanwhile VRA have been granted a bye to the semi-final on Saturday September 4th where they will take on the loser of that encounter with the winner taking the second spot in the final the following day.
HCC and VOC were originally slated to contest their final league phase match at de Diepput on the 15th of August, but that match was eventually abandoned with HCC refusing to continue after a heated exchange in the middle apparently included a racially-charged comment directed at the HCC keeper. After the KNCB initially awarded the game to VOC, the Commissie van Beroep overturned the decision, mandating that the match be replayed the following week, consequently delaying the start of the palyoff phase.
In the event, VOC declined to play the rescheduled match citing concerns over escalating tensions and throwing the competition into further confusion, compounded by an unrelated controversy over the conflicting rules over precedence of tie-breakers for teams finishing on equal points which cast doubt on which of VCC or HCC would finish in second should HCC be awarded the game.
HCC would then find themselves embroiled in a controversy of their own this week when a photo surfaced of the whiteboard on which the team had written their pre-game objectives ahead of their Round 17 match against Punjab, which featured a slogan which reffered to their opponents using a derogatory Urdu term.
As the ongoing mess threatened to overshadow the final phase of the Topklasse entirely, both clubs, in consultation with the KNCB, mutually agreed it would be best to withdraw.
In a statement on the club website VOC explained: VOC and HCC jointly discussed the situation surrounding the abandoned match. This was both desirable and necessary as it became clear this that the replay … had not been established in accordance with the regulations. Following consultations – and taking into account the interests of cricket in the Netherlands – VOC and HCC jointly decided to withdraw from potential participation in the playoffs.
HCC likewise issued a statement, saying, As a club we have certain norms and values. The unrest generated by the match against VOC is sufficient cause for us to withdraw from further participation in the play-offs. With this we hope that peace will return to cricket. We would like to emphasize that we consider it of great importance that we continue to maintain friendly and sporting ties with all clubs and hope by means of taking this step to demonstrate those intentions.
Sunday August 29th: Preliminary Final – Punjab Rotterdam vs Voorburg CC
Saturday September 4th: Semi Final – Loser Preliminary Final vs VRA
Sunday September 5th: Grand Final – Winner Prelim Final vs Winner Semi Final