Westerlo coach fired after controversial draw against Genk

Manager Rik De Mil has been let go by KVC Westerlo with immediate effect, the football club announced in a press release on Tuesday afternoon. De Mil came under fire last weekend when his players settled for a draw against Genk.

The controversial moment came in the dying minutes of the match with the score 1-1. Sporting Charleroi were losing, which meant that Westerlo were already safe from relegation. But Genk could still lose their place in the champions' play-offs if they lost. The home team decided to let the opposition pass the ball around for minutes on end until the draw was secured.

'A strange situation'

KAA Gent, who would have qualified for the play-offs had Genk lost, said the draw was a disgrace. De Mil tried to minimise the importance of what happened: "It was a strange situation," he said after the game. "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."

But the footballing world did not forget. On Monday, the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) announced that it was considering whether to charge Westerlo with unsporting behaviour. The regulations require clubs to "respect the principles of loyalty, integrity and sporting spirit as an expression of fair play", the RBFA told Belga, adding that match-fixing was also being considered.

"We cannot accept our values and standards being called into question"

Westerlo also distanced itself from what happened during the match on Monday, saying that "these were circumstances over which the club had no control". A day later, however, the club decided to fire De Mil with immediate effect. "We cannot accept our values and standards being called into question," the club said on Tuesday.

Despite the controversy, the decision comes as a surprise, as De Mil produced excellent results in his first full season in charge, rescuing Westerlo from the relegation zone. Whether he will be able to continue coaching in Belgium remains to be seen. "You carry this with you," said Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck last weekend. "Other clubs have seen this too."



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