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Den Bosch apologizes to Jozy Altidore

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The Dutch club Den Bosch pledged Wednesday to do all it can to identify and punish a group of fans who racially abused American forward Jozy Altidore during a game.

Den Bosch said fans responsible for the monkey chants Tuesday during the Dutch Cup match against Altidore's AZ Alkmaar "do not belong in the De Vliert (Stadium) and will face the toughest possible sanctions."

The racist chants gave a hollow ring to the slogan "Without respect, no football" that was coined by Dutch soccer authorities in the aftermath of the death of a linesman who was attacked by players after a match between two youth teams near Amsterdam in December.

Altidore, who is black, was not available for comment Wednesday. After the match, he told Dutch television the chants were the worst abuse he has been subjected to on a soccer field.

"It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen in this time that we're in," Altidore told Eredivisie Live. "But what you going to do? You just hope these people can find a way to improve themselves. You can only pray for them."

Altidore converted a penalty kick in his team's 5-0 win over Den Bosch, giving him a career-high 20 goals this season. He urged the referee not to take the players off the field despite the chants.

The 23-year-old, who has 13 goals in 51 appearances for the U.S. national team, said education is the key to stamping out such chants.

"At the end of the day it's still alive, racism. All we can do now is try to educate ourselves, the young kids coming up, to be better than that," Altidore said.

Den Bosch condemned the chants from a small section of the crowd.

"A cup tie that was supposed to be played in an atmosphere of respect has left us scarred," the club said in a statement on its website.

Referee Reinold Wiedemeijer halted play briefly in the second half because fans threw balls of ice at his linesmen.

Offensive chants are nothing new in Dutch soccer stadiums, but it had been hoped that the sharpened focus on respect following the death of volunteer linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen might help eradicate them.

"(The fans) totally ruined weeks of preparations with monkey chants, throwing things at match officials and not showing respect for those on and around the pitch," Den Bosch said.

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