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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Ruud Gullit: Plastic pitches are threat to future of Dutch football

Sparta Rotterdam are one of six Eredivisie clubs to use an artificial pitch.

Netherlands legend Ruud Gullit has told Reuters he fears the use of plastic pitches is having a destructive influence on Dutch football.

After the Netherlands failed to qualify for either Euro 2016 or this summer's world Cup, fears have been voiced of a general decline in the Dutch game.

But Gullit, one of the country's greatest-ever players, has said plastic pitches threaten an upturn in fortunes, with six Eredivisie clubs now using them.

"I've said all along we can't have these pitches, but in Holland they were promoting it," he said at an event in London.

"The people who were promoting it had an interest in it and are now on the board of the KNVB [Netherlands football federation]. Now we know it's ridiculous, but to reverse it will be a difficult.

"We've gone backwards. It's destroyed our football. It's a different game, totally different. If they [every league] played on plastic I would accept it, but we have six in the Eredivisie and it's outrageous.

"Now we are finding that players don't want to come and play in Holland because of it and young players want to leave."

Gullit said he believed all youth teams should play on natural grass pitches and not synthetic ones, adding: "The crazy thing if you want good natural grass, Holland is the place to come. We have the best natural turf in the world."

Meanwhile, Gullit -- who played for Chelsea and managed both them and Newcastle during a spell in England -- said he did not feel Gareth Southgate's side were potential World Cup winners.

"I don't think they can win it," he said. "They will be exhausted. They play such a tough schedule in England.

"I think they have a better chance in Qatar in four years, because it will be in November which is when English players are fittest and at their maximum. But in Russia it will be hard.

"The problem is that after a long, hard season it's so hard to re-boot and re-charge for the World Cup. It's a mental and physical thing. I think that's why you've not seen any of the big stars really producing at the World Cup since the 1990s.

"Nobody, not even Ronaldo or Messi, is at their best at the World Cup. You want it but your body says it needs some rest."

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