Almost ten years ago to the day, the mayors of both Amsterdam and Rotterdam came to an agreement with the KNVB to prevent away supporters from each city attending games in an attempt to the frequent curb violence that marred clashes between the rivals. Supposed to last only five years, the ban has been continually extended and still remains in place.

  • By George Smith
  • Follow George on Twitter

Though a constant thorn in the side of both club’s fan bases, the issue has taken on fresh importance as the Ajax board recently backed a fan initiative to boycott the fixture and will themselves not travel to Rotterdam for the KNVB cup semi-final this season. But rather than looking forward, it is worth for a moment looking back and understanding where the ban came from and what has kept it going.

Beyond the rich history of the two club’s rivalry, there are many key dates that led up to the ban in 2009 – besides increasingly frequent offensive and anti-Semitic chanting. Some of the most important are the 1997 Battle of Beverwijk, the attack on Feyenoord reserves in 2004, and the 2005 rioting and violence.

In the first instance, the Battle of Beverwijk saw the beating to death of an Ajax fan by Feyenoord supporters, while the 2004 attack saw Ajax fans hospitalise Feyenoord player Jorge Acuña. In the same incident a young Robin van Persie only escaped relatively unscathed because of protection from the Ajax staff and players. In 2005 the same kind of hooliganism led to mass damage of property and vicious street brawls, with Dutch officials taking the unprecedented step of televising those involved and their damage. The 2009 ban was seen as a temporary but necessary measure to curb the mounting number of incidences that followed.

Planned to last only five years, the ban was extended for the Amsterdam club, however, after the 2014 KNVB cup final. Hosted at De Kuip, Ajax fans to the chance to launch fireworks on to the pitch after losing 5-1 to PEC Zwolle.

Tensions continued to mount and prevent the ending of the ban after Ajax fans blamed their Feyenoord counterparts for burning down the Ajax clubhouse in 2015, though this was never confirmed. The planned revenge attack by Ajax ultras was prevented by the police, with one fan even being arrested for possession of dangerous weapons.

The situation refused to de-escalate, and the hanging of an effigy of Feyenoord goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer (who spent the majority of his career at Ajax) in 2016 ensured the problem of what to do about militant fans continued.

Three years on from the stadium ban that resulted from the effigy and there still remains questions marks about when the two clubs will feel able to lift the ban and allow fans to travel to away games and support. The move by the Ajax board to stand in solidarity with the fans is an interesting one and will certainly turn some heads at the KNVB, but it still looks unlikely that this chapter of the biggest rivalry in Dutch football will be concluded swiftly.

George Smith (33 Posts)