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Rafael and Sylvie van der Vaart split with haste

Germany is awash with news of the break-up of star couple Rafael and Sylvie van der Vaart. The Dutch duo confirmed their split via their lawyer, after a New Year's party apparently took a dark turn.

Sylvie and Rafael van der Vaart on 04.07.2012 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. (Photo via dpa)

Niederlande Ehepaar Sylvie und Rafael van der Vaart

It's not a soccer meets celebrity match quite like "Posh and Becks" or "Pique and Shakira," but Rafael and Sylvie van der Vaart were easily Germany's most famous married Dutch couple.

The pair announced via their lawyer on Wednesday that their marriage was at en end, after days of frenzied chatter about an argument at their New Year's Eve party, in which footballer Rafael apparently struck his wife in front of guests.

"I am most deeply saddened that it hasn't worked out between us. We are the ones responsible. Sylvie and I are the reason that our marriage is not working," Rafael is quoted as saying in the Wednesday edition of mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

"We sadly grew apart in the course of time. It was a gradual process that just couldn't be stopped," Sylvie told the paper.

Key demographics

The Dutch duo are possibly as well known in Germany as at home. Rafael van der Vaart this season rejoined Hamburg, the club where he rose to superstardom between 2005 and 2008. The 29-year-old international had stints at Real Madrid and Tottenham before returning to live in northern Germany.

Sylvie, who started out as a model and children's TV host in the Netherlands, later broke onto the German media scene. She is perhaps best known as one of the panel of judges on "Das Supertalent," the German adaptation of a talent-seeking show most famous in Britain and America.

The van der Vaart name therefore resonates in two large, and rather different, segments of Germany's prime time TV audience.

Rafael, 29, and Sylvie, 34, married in 2005, their son Damian was born in 2006. They were named Germany's "couple of the year" by the celebrity and glamour magazine "Gala" in 2008.

msh/hc (dapd, dpa, SID)