Mario Stam, councillor in Schiedam, presented the Jillis Bruggeman Medal to Michael van Praag. The President of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) was rewarded with this medal because of his active support of the fight against discrimination and for showing respect on the playing field. He also is a great advocate of LGBT emancipation in general.
“The KNVB is addressing the subject of LGBT emancipation. It is important, as the swear world that is most commonly used on the sports field is ‘homo’. That needs to change and can change”, councillor Mario Stam said. “LGBTs often do not feel accepted or are bullied. That is why we have organised a Respect clinic for youth prior to the award ceremony. The clinic is led by Henk Pieterse, former professional top basketball player and anti-bullying coach.”
Councillor Nathalie Gouweleeuw: “The sports field is in fact a mini society. If we can discuss discrimination, exclusion and violence there, and combat them, this will have a positive effect on the entire city. It pleases me that the KNVB, under the presidency of Michael van Praag, has developed a strong anti-discriminatory policy.”
Michael van Praag is very honoured that the city of Schiedam values the anti-discrimination policy of the KNVB properly:
“Our headquarters in Zeist and all of our clubs and representing teams really do put in a lot of effort. It is heart-warming that others see this, especially when it happens the way it does in Schiedam. As a person, I have a somewhat different attitude. Why is the award for me? I think it is normal to stick up for minorities. That we will do our utmost to offer our support to people who are in a tight spot and help them get out of it. I see this attitude as a moral obligation as a member of this society. But let me be clear. As President of the KNVB I am delighted about this token of appreciation from a group we fight for. Every day if necessary.”
Led by Michael van Praag, the Royal Dutch Football Association developed policies aimed to enhance the acceptance of LGBTs in football. One example is the action plan ‘Football is For Everyone,’ which he presented on October 11, 2011 to Sports Minister Edith Schippers.
Jillis Bruggeman Medal
The Netherlands does not know prosecution on the grounds of someone's sexual orientation or gender identity, but LGBT discrimination unfortunately still regularly occurs. It remains important to be vigilant. The city of Schiedam wants to have a leading role in this, and has therefore appointed three LGBT ambassadors. The city also encourages and supports a number of LGBT projects.
One of those is the Jillis Bruggeman Monument. The monument is a memorial tile for the native Schiedammer Jillis Bruggeman, who was sentenced to death on March 9, 1803, found guilty of charges of sodomy and homosexual acts.
With this monument, and the annual presentation of the Jillis Bruggeman Medal to a person or institution for their efforts in supporting LGBT policy, the city of Schiedam is taking position against all forms of prosecution and discrimination of LGBTs. In 2015, the director of Amnesty International, Eduard Nazarski, received the very first medal.