England and [Netherlands] played out a low-key stalemate
at Villa Park. Shaun Wright-Phillips had England's best
chances in the first half, but was twice off target from close
range. Dirk Kuijt came closest to breaking the deadlock after
only 11 minutes, but he hit the post from 20 yards with England
goalkeeper Paul Robinson helpless.
England gave debuts to Andy Johnson and Stewart
Downing, but they had little chance to shine as two under-strength
sides settled for a draw. Sven-Goran Eriksson gave
Wright-Phillips his first start, and he had chances to make his mark
in a first 45 minutes lacking in real quality.
[Netherlands] had their own share of possession and were
only denied the lead by the woodwork after 11 minutes. Romeo
Castelen found Kuijt, and he flashed a shot past Robinson from 20
yards, but it rebounded to safety off the post.
Wright-Phillips then had the first of two clear chances to mark his
full debut with a goal. England captain David Beckham pulled
the ball back inside the area, but the Manchester City winger
miscued his shot from close range and it was deflected for a corner.
And after 19 minutes he missed an even better
chance to give England the lead. Gary Neville was the creator
with a perfect cross from the right, but Wright-Phillips again
failed to make a proper contact, this time from eight yards.
Michael Owen volleyed over the top as England pressed at the end of
the first period.
Eriksson made one mystifying change at half-time -
when everyone expected the introduction of either Johnson or
Downing, the Swede conservatively replaced Frank Lampard with Owen
[Netherlands] started the second period in threatening
fashion, with defender Jan Kromkamp sending a dangerous ball across
the face of the England goal with no-one on hand to apply the
finishing touch. Then striker Roy Makaay fired narrowly off
target before Eriksson made a double change on the hour, sending on
Downing and Johnson for Wright-Phillips and Wayne Rooney.
Castelen had the ball in the net with a powerful
drive after 63 minutes, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on
Ashley Cole. [Netherlands] wasted another chance in the final
minute, when Gary Neville's ill-advised attempt at trickery left the
visitors with a break, but Kuijt shot straight at Robinson.
Caborn welcomes anti-racism stand
Sports minister Richard Caborn has praised
England and [Netherlands] for taking a stand against racism in football.
Both sides played at Villa Park in Wednesday's friendly wearing
strips bearing messages promoting anti-racism. "It is great to
see England and [Netherlands] uniting against racism," said Caborn on
Wednesday evening. But Gary Neville warned against
commercialism clouding the issue: "We have to make sure it's
conducted in the right manner and not done just for PR." The
Manchester United defender welcomed the anti-racism initiatives but
feared some sports companies such as his club's kit sponsors, Nike,
were in danger of using such campaigns for free publicity.
"The FA and the England team have always campaigned against racism
very well, we have just got to be aware that it is not cheapened
slightly by companies like Nike getting a lot of PR out of it for
England's red shirts had an anti-racism slogan in
silver on the front with the Kick It Out badge on the sleeves, while
[Netherlands] had a black and white kit. Caborn added: "I really
welcome the fact both football associations have decided to
highlight the issue in this way. The whole footballing world
needs to stand up and speak up against the racist minority that have
recently given the game a bad name. But this should not be a
one-off. We need to continue to work together to rid football
completely of racism."
It was the first time in 133 years of
international football the England kit had carried anything on the
front other than the three lions badge and manufacturer's logo. [Netherlands] ditched their traditional orange colours for a black and
white kit to show their support of the cause.
England's black players have been the target of
racist abuse in several internationals, most recently when Shaun
Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were targeted during a friendly
against Spain in Madrid in November. Fifa gave the two FAs
special permission to wear the shirts and fans were also asked to
hold up cards with an anti-racism message during the national
anthems. England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson earlier said: "The
message is a simple one, but very important. The team and the fans
will be saying 'no to racism'. It is a message that will be
heard across football and around the world."
As well as Netherlands, Portugal and Russia also used
the black and white kits in their games to show their resistance to
racism. It is part of the Stand Up, Speak Up campaign
instigated by Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry, and
supported by other top players in Europe. The campaign is
backed by Henry's sponsor Nike, who also manufacture the kit for the
three countries involved. The campaign's symbol is interlocked
black and white wristbands, which players across Europe started to
wear back in January. Supporters can buy the wristbands, with
funds going to a central Stand Up Speak Up, administered by a
non-profit organisation, the King Baudouin Foundation based in
Belgium. The foundation will use the money to conduct research
into racism in football.
A spokesman for the Dutch FA said: "It's a big
step for us to give up our national colours, but it's something we
feel strongly about and are prepared to do. We don't feel we
have a problem in Dutch football. Fans treat black and white players
exactly the same. But we have visited other countries where
our black players have been abused, and there is obviously a
problem. It's something that should be highlighted and
anything we can do to make sure racism is wiped out, we're happy to
go along with." The Football Association have been at the
forefront of moves to marginalise racism from the game with its Kick
Racism Out Of Football campaign.