Total Anarchy: As Dutch Football Hooliganism Runs Riot Again, Could Things Escalate Even Further?

Published on 28 September 2023 at 12:55

After even more fan trouble and game postponement in the Eredivisie, this time following Ajax's home defeat to Feyenoord in Amsterdam, is the issue of football hooliganism and violence becoming something that Dutch football must tackle now before it irreparably affects the rest of the season?


Last Sunday’s ‘Klassieker’ should’ve been a 90 minute celebration for Feyenoord at the home of their bitter rivals Ajax: having kicked off their season in sensational form, with Arne Slot leading the Dutch side to some of their best performances this century, and leaving their rivals in the dust. 


Instead, after a dominant first half, in which the reigning Eredivisie champions scored three and looked increasingly likely of scoring more, the vitriolic Ajax fans had had enough, and began to pelt the pitch of the Johan Cruyff Arena with an assortment of projectiles. Just the latest similar incident in Dutch football, the game followed precedent and was suspended before being finally called off. 


In protest, scores of Ajax supporters stormed different parts of the empty arena, with the local police being forced to use tear gas to quell the carnage. 


The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, has threatened to cancel Ajax games if the rampant hooliganism and vandalism persisted in future fixtures, which after some difficult years, both financially and in terms of on the pitch performances, could threaten the immediate future of the legendary outfit. 

In the midst of their worst start to a league campaign since 1964, and as Feyenoord and PSV look to widen the gap in the Dutch top flight even further (as proven in Wednesday afternoon’s behind-closed-doors restart, where Santiago Gimenez finally completed his hat trick) it’s an issue that Ajax, the KNVB, and wider European football must tackle immediately.


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This past weekend's incident isn't even the first instance of an Eredivisie game being postponed and cancelled as a result of fan trouble. Ajax found themselves on the other side of affairs back in May, when they travelled to already-relegated FC Groningen. 


The riled-up home crowd, protesting the club's board in the wake of their relegation to the Dutch second division, began to threw flares onto the pitch, forcing officials to temporarily suspend the game. 


The terrible scenes reportedly escalated as fans tried to make their way onto the pitch, forcing the game to fully suspended. In response to the scenes, the KNVB ordered Groningen to play their next home game with an empty Z-Side. 


Violence hasn't been limited to domestic or league ties however: AZ Alkmaar Ultras notably stormed the West Ham fans' away stand during their semi-final clash in last season's UEFA Europa Conference League, with many of the Hammers' family and friends situated in the area. The result of this trouble was a £68,768 fine for the Dutch outfit, and one future European game being ordered to be played without fans.


Additionally, all three of Feyenoord and Roma's recent European clashes have been equally marred by violence between both teams' devout ultras. 


Whilst many a neutral and rival will be relishing this apparent 'decline' in Ajax, who have won 75 trophies in their history (24 more than the next most successful team: PSV), their decline could prove to be a catalyst for even more fan trouble, so it will be interesting to see what additional ramifications might in-line for Ajax after they have already replayed their fixture with Feyenoord behind-closed-doors. 


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on Instagram and X/Formerly Known As Twitter)


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