‘Frits’ Philips | ‘The last true patriarch of club soccer’

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Frits Philips. Link to International Herald Tribune article.Eindhoven, the Netherlands | Belatedly we acknowledge the death on Dec 5 of Frederik Jacques “Frits” Philips, 100, founder with his father and uncle of the light-bulb company that became the conglomerate Royal Philips Electronics. In 1913, Philips helped found Philips Sport Vereniging, a sporting association for factory workers of which PSV Eindhoven, current leaders in the Dutch Eredivisie, is an integral part. Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune calls Philips “the last true patriarch of club soccer” in a tribute that mentions Philips’s preference “to watch games at the stadium with the common fan rather than in the corporate boxes with company executives.”

Players and supporters of Fenerbahçe of Istanbul were lauded for helping to honor Philips at a Champions League fixture in Philips Stadion on Dec 6; PSV won 2–0 to advance to the round of 16. “The Fenerbahçe followers could not have known what Mr. Frits represented in Dutch culture,” said de Telegraaf writer Jaap de Groote, “but their silence was immaculate.” In a life filled with tributes, one of the highest was receiving the Yad Vashem medal from Israel in 1996. During a 1943 internment at Vught concentration camp near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Philips is credited with having saved the lives of 382 Jewish prisoners working in an electrical workshop. He insisted that they were indispensable.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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