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Chapter 20: Professional soccer in the Netherlands
Soccer is, as in most other European countries, the most popular sport in the Netherlands. The governing body (Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbal Bond, KNVB) has 1.2 million members, of which more than 10 per cent (124 000) are female. These players are members of 3275 different teams, that play competition at different levels, usually at the weekend. Some of these teams own the facilities where they play their games, most teams rent these from the municipality. Besides being the most important grass-roots sport in the Netherlands, soccer is also the biggest professional sport. Even though there are other professional sports of some significance (for example, skating, cycling and field hockey), professional soccer stands apart because of its aggregate economic significance, the number of professional players involved, and demand as measured by stadium attendance and television audience. In this chapter I discuss three aspects of professional soccer in the Netherlands. I start by discussing the organisation of the two professional leagues. Then I proceed to discuss the development of broadcasting rights over time. To improve the quality of the games and the league, the KNVB has introduced end-of-season play-offs to win tickets for European competitions. The effects of these play-offs on the number of games with something significant at stake, is evaluated in section 20.4. Finally, I conclude in section 20.5.
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