Liberals seek boycott of Dutch - Belarus match

AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands Euro 2008 qualifier against Belarus on Wednesday faces a new challenge.

Within days of power company workers withdrawing a threat to cut power to the Philip's stadium in Eindhoven during the match, a leading member of the Liberal Party (VVD) has called for a boycott by the Dutch side.

MP Hans van Baalen wants the boycott in protest at the increasingly authoritarian rule of Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko.

"We are talking about a harsh dictatorship where people disappear and sports people are not free," Van Baalen told news programme Netwerk on Monday evening. He said the Dutch eleven should not play the return match in Belarus in November either.

Dutch soccer federation KNVB rejected the suggestion. "We are a football association and not a political organisation," a spokesperson said. "If the Dutch team does not football, disqualification will follow. As long as UEFA does not boycott these sorts of countries we will not consider not playing."

He dismissed Van Baalen's performance as "short-term politics".

"It is striking this call comes two days before the international match, while it has been common knowledge for months that we have to play against White Russia (Belarus)," the spokesperson said.