Westerlo fire Rik de Mil over ‘convenient’ draw with Racing Genk

March 20 – Belgium club Westerlo have dismissed their manager Rik De Mil with immediate effect after widespread criticism over his team’s convenient draw with Racing Genk on the last day of the regular season. 

In scenes that reminded the older supporters of West Germany vs Austria in 1982, Westerlo and Genk settled for a 1-1 draw in the dying minutes of their match, a result that suited both teams – Westerlo were safe from relegation and Genk clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Westerlo passed the ball around but made no attempt to attack. Westerlo’s owners moved on Tuesday to fire their own manager.

“We cannot accept that our values and standards are being called into question,” said the club in a statement. “Although the club was considering a long-term partnership, we felt it was necessary to make this decision.”

On Monday, the Belgian FA (RBFA) said it was considering whether to charge Westerlo for unsporting behaviour. After the match, De Mil had downplayed the importance of what happened: “It was a strange situation,” said De Mil at a news conference.

“Players talk to each other and then this happens. Maybe it wasn’t the ideal way to end the game, but let’s forget about those last few minutes.”

His counterpart at AA Gent Hein Vanhaezebrouck was left fuming. His team missed out on the playoffs. He said: “I wouldn’t want it on my CV that I asked players to stand still for seven minutes. I wouldn’t allow it. This is something you carry with you as a manager. Other clubs will notice it.”

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