Netherlands considering not coming back to Eurovision unless “structural changes” are made

The Netherlands are contemplating no longer participating in Eurovision following the controversial disqualification of Joost Klein in last month’s contest, their state broadcaster has said.

READ MORE: Inside the raging debate to watch Eurovision 2024: “This feels bigger than the contest”

Klein – who was set to represent the Netherlands with his song ‘Europapa’ – was disqualified from the contest in Malmö, Sweden just hours before Saturday’s finale (May 11). At the time, police stated that the decision was made after he was accused of making verbal threats towards a female member of the production crew.

The incident marked the first time that an act had been disqualified after reaching the Grand Final in the competition’s 68-year history and, before his disqualification, the 26-year-old singer was named as one of the favourites to win.

Jimmy Modin, a spokesperson for the police, spoke to The Guardian about the incident and revealed that it was looking likely that Klein will face legal action. The investigation has since concluded.

A week after his disqualification, the singer performed at Freshtival in Enschede, telling the crowd, saying: “My name is Klein (short) but I’m standing tall,” referring to the Eurovision incident (per Dutchnews).

After news of his disqualification, Dutch broadcaster Avrotros said it was “shocked” by the decision, and stated that while Klein made a “threatening move” towards a female camera operator, he had not touched her (via The Guardian).

“Against the clearly made agreement, Joost was filmed when he had just gotten off stage and had to rush to the green room. At that moment, Joost repeatedly indicated that he did not want to be filmed. This wasn’t respected,” Avrotros added.

Now, Avrotros have added a further update on the situation, revealing that their future participation in the contest remains in doubt.

“In the past few weeks, a lot has happened behind the scenes at Avrotros in the disappointing aftermath of the Song Contest for the Netherlands. We want to share what we can, but we also ask for understanding of the fact that not everything can be made public (yet),” their statement began.

“The investigation into the incident after Joost Klein’s performance in the 2nd semi-final is still pending at the Swedish Public Prosecution Service. During this investigation, we unfortunately cannot go into the details, the circumstances, and the handling of this incident because this could influence the investigation. We can say that based on the information we have now, we still believe that the disqualification was unnecessary and inappropriate.

They continued: “Avrotros, like other participating countries, has received a request from the EBU to cooperate in an investigation. We have decided to cooperate with this, with the necessary caveats. Avrotros believes that a broader, more in-depth and truly independent investigation is needed to address structural problems. Not only organisation in Malmö and the EBU, but also the role and mandate of the Reference Group (the committee of delegated participating countries), the rules/procedures and appeal possibilities in the event of complaints, and the increased pressure on artists and delegations in the run-up to and during the Song Contest should be the subject of investigation by a recognised and independent research agency.”

On the subject of the country’s future at Eurovision, Avrotros added: “The Eurovision Song Contest was created to connect countries and peoples through music and to encourage mutual brotherhood. This should be the starting point for the organisers and all participating countries. Until Avrotros is confident that structural adjustments will be made to the artists and their musical message back in the center, we will keep participation in the Eurovision Song Contest under consideration.”

This year’s competition, which was ultimately won by Switzerland’s Nemo, was dogged by controversy for allowing Israel to compete amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

It was later revealed that six countries wanted to withdraw up to 25 minutes before the start of the final. These were the winning Switzerland, as well as Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Greece and the United Kingdom.

One of the most vocal about their temptation to pull out of the event was Magnus Børmark, a member of the Norwegian band Gåte.

“We were considering withdrawing until the last moment. Many of us reacted to the fact that Israel had the opportunity to use Eurovision as its own political tool,” the guitarist explained.

“Our common point was that we did not want to participate in Eurovision to be used and stigmatised in a war propaganda machine in Israel. We participated to create a space where we can unite in music – in a political situation where everyone chooses sides and hates each other.

“It seemed as if there was one set of rules for Israel, another for the rest… There is something wrong when you experience it. The artists should not have to have a crisis meeting with the EBU.”

However, a spokesperson for Switzerland denied reports that contestant Nemo was contemplating pulling out. Now, the head of Switzerland’s delegation to the contest has denied the reports. During a new interview, Yves Schifferle said that “on the one hand there was never any thought of withdrawing from the contest” (via Eurovision Fun).

Schifferle also emphasised that there was “no critical meeting” between the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the host broadcaster SVT in the last few minutes before the grand final started.

The post Netherlands considering not coming back to Eurovision unless “structural changes” are made appeared first on NME.

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