Ruud Gullit reacts after Dutch fans did 'blackface' in an attempt to dress up as him for Euro 2024 win over Poland… with one supporter pledging to 'retire' their outfit after severe backlash

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  • The fans were criticised for painting their faces black in a bid to imitate him 
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Ruud Gullit has reportedly claimed he was ‘honoured’ by Dutch fans dressing up as him during the Netherlands’ 2-1 win over Poland. 

The group of fans faced severe backlash for the ‘blackface’ as they tried to imitate Gullit in the stands for their country’s opening Euro 2024 fixture. 

They had painted their faces black, wore dreadlocks similar to his iconic hairstyle, and also sported moustaches in an effort to imitate him. 


The practice of ‘blackface’, which dates back to the 19th century, is seen by many as racist.

However, Gullit didn’t seem to mind at all as he claimed ‘I actually feel honoured’ according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. 

The group of fans were criticised for 'blackface', which many see as racist and which is particularly controversial in the Netherlands

The group of fans were criticised for ‘blackface’, which many see as racist and which is particularly controversial in the Netherlands

But Ruud Gullit has claimed he felt 'honoured' by fans imitating him - despite the criticism

But Ruud Gullit has claimed he felt ‘honoured’ by fans imitating him – despite the criticism

They wore kits from the Netherlands' 1988 European Championship win, in which Gullit starred

They wore kits from the Netherlands’ 1988 European Championship win, in which Gullit starred

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He is a Dutch legend and won the 1988 European Championship with the nation. The three fans wore replica kits from that team as part of their outfit.

Following the backlash, however, one of the fans, Bart van de Ven, has pledged to ‘retire’ his ‘Rasta Ruud’ persona, according to DutchNews. 

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‘Maybe I made a mistake or it’s a blind spot. The last thing I want to do is hurt people and that’s why I’ve decided to stop,’ he said. 

‘I’ve had a lot of really nice responses as well, but clearly there is a group who feel differently,’ he said. ‘I have to respect that and listen to it. The last thing I want is for people to have a certain unpleasant association with my act.’

Van de Ven reportedly imitated Gullit at international tournaments between 2008 and 2014. 

The issue of blackface is particularly controversial in the Netherlands, where the tradition of ‘Black Pete’ is the source of intense debate. 

The presence of ‘Zwarte Piet’ at Christmas festivals draws ire from protestors. 

Traditionally, the character is played by white actors in blackface with curly afro-style wigs and red lipstick.

One of the fans, Bart van de Ven, has pledged to retire the costume, which he wore at tournaments between 2008 and 2014

One of the fans, Bart van de Ven, has pledged to retire the costume, which he wore at tournaments between 2008 and 2014

Defenders of the tradition see it as harmless fun, with the black make-up representing soot from Santa Claus descending the chimney.

The Netherlands kickstarted their Euros campaign with a comeback win over Poland after striker Wout Weghorst came off the bench to snatch a late winner.

They were shocked in the 16th minute when Adam Buksa towered above three defenders for a beautiful flick into the net from Piotr Zielinski’s corner.

The Dutch equalised in the 29th minute with a low shot by the livewire Cody Gakpo from outside the area that took a deflection off defender Bartosz Salamon to beat Wojciech Szczesny.

And after a host of missed chances throughout the game the Dutch finally broke through again late on via Weghorst.