Peter Verbeke speaks for the first time since leaving Anderlecht: “Being called Nazi, I had to explain that to my daughter”

Verbeke worked for the Purple & White for three years. First as sporting director, then as CEO. At the end of last year he was out for a long time with a viral infection. With the arrival of Jesper Fredberg (the current CEO of Sports at Anderlecht), Verbeke, who also worked at Club Brugge and AA Gent in the past, no longer had a place at the club. He is currently employed by Double Pass, a football talent development company.

Among other things, the sensational article about Anderlecht in Humo was discussed in the studio.

“I try not to put too much energy into that, because I think that’s negative energy and lost energy,” it sounds. “But I do think that a line has been crossed there. Being compared to a Nazi… Those are people responsible for six million deaths, many of them children. I also had to explain that to my ten-year-old daughter. I think that an anonymous witness, a former employee, who tells such a thing… That is very far-reaching and also that a journalist just takes over that. I will also strongly oppose that.”


Verbeke therefore submitted a complaint to the Council for Journalism and fully understands that Anderlecht initiated a case in response to the Humo article.

Furthermore, Verbeke says he does not understand that someone says such a thing about him. “Shouting, humiliating… That’s not my style,” explains Verbeke. “I have a direct style, I always try to name things and be straightforward. And, again, I have no problem if there is criticism of my style or of transfers that we have made. But calling someone a Nazi, calling someone a psychopath and writing an article that contains a lot of lies and untruths, that is a bridge too far for me. From now on I will always have to justify myself – also when applying for jobs – why someone ever called me a Nazi.”

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Geen burn-out

Apart from that case, Verbeke is doing much better, he says. He has been able to spend a lot of time with his wife and their son and daughter and the health problems seem to be behind him.

“Because of that viral infection, I had two difficult months, November and December. Bizarre that people said it was a burnout, which fortunately was not the case, because then you might be out for six months. But I do think that the stress and fatigue of the job played a role in my illness process. That the infection hit me harder than usual because of it. But after a lot of rest and also walking it turned out well. I have been feeling much better since January.”


Yet he was put aside at Anderlecht at the end of January. A decision by Fredberg, who was supported by non-executive chairman Wouter Vandenhaute, and a heavy blow. But he does not kick for that, on the contrary. He is positive about the Dane. “The line Fredberg has drawn, the clarity he has brought and the way things are currently being played: that is absolutely what the club needed after that turbulent period. Okay, you have to aim higher than eighth place, but I think he and Brian Riemer (the coach, ed.) are doing very well. Anderlecht is ready to face the future, also because of all the modernizations that I carried out at the time with (ex-coach, ed.) Vincent Kompany on a sporting level and Wouter on a non-sporting level. There is still a lot of quality in the core and there are now a lot of young people with a lot of potential working at the club.”

Back at a top club?

Verbeke also looks back self-critically on some decisions, such as the farewell to Kompany. “That is the biggest professional disappointment of my career. Wouter didn’t get a lot of shit for that and I understand that, but it wasn’t just his responsibility. As CEO, I also feel responsible for this. In retrospect, appointing Felice Mazzu as successor was also at odds with our modernization. That was, with all due respect to Felice, a miscast.”

He also made an error of judgment about himself. He regrets that he traded the sporting directorship for a dual role in which he also became CEO. “That question came from the club because I myself had made the business plan for the next five years. But I didn’t make the right choice there. There were a lot of other things involved that I didn’t have the know-how for.”

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But now Verbeke only looks to the future. He is still friends with Vandenhaute. “He had invited me to watch the Tour of Flanders. Although I think he was more nervous before the match against Eupen.” And if it depends on himself, he will soon set out the sporty lines again at a top club. “I would like that, yes. I would prefer to join a stable long-term project in which I can play an important sporting role. My biggest ambition is to have more time for my family, but in combination with a very nice job in football.”

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