Van Basten suspended by Fox Sports following Nazi slur

The former Netherlands manager has been heavily criticised for imitating the Nazi slogan after a pitchside interview conducted in German

Marco van Basten has been suspended from Fox Sports after saying infamous Nazi salute "Sieg Heil" on air.

He made the remark after a pitchside interview of German manager Frank Wormuth, who had just watched his Heracles side lose 4-1 to Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena. Van Basten has claimed that he was attempting to ridicule the the German language skills of pitchside colleague Hans Kraay.

Fox Sports have branded the comment "stupid and inappropriate", while Van Basten has been forced to apologise. "Life is like football. Sometimes you score, sometimes you miss," he said. "But if you miss, that does not mean that you are a bad person."

As a former Nazi slogan, "Sieg Heil" has deeply unpleasant connotations. The controversy came on a weekend in which all players in the Netherlands' top two divisions agreed not to play the first minute of their games in a protest against racism following the abuse suffered by Ahmad Mendes Moreira during a match between Excelsior and Den Bosch earlier this month.

Van Basten has now been suspended for a week, with his fee donated to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation which promotes education and awareness over the history of the Second World War. In a statement announcing his suspension, Fox Sports suggested that he had used "the wrong joke at the wrong time".

Netherlands manager between 2004 and 2008 and an icon of the Oranje during his playing days, Van Basten is one of the most recognisable faces on Dutch television. He won the Ballon d'Or three times during his career, while also inspiring the Netherlands to victory at Euro '88.

Fox Sports added that Van Basten "did not want to hurt anyone deliberately, apologised and accepted the consequences." He is set to return to their Saturday night talkshow, De Eretribune, on Saturday 7 December.

As well as making a public apology, Van Basten also called Wormuth after the game to issue a personal apology.

"He called me in the middle of the night and said it was a bad joke," Wormuth told Dutch newspaper Tubantia.

"He said it was because Hans Kraay's German is so bad and it wasn't about me. Great, I answered in Dutch that I do not feel it was about me... I don't see any connection between his words and myself."

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