VVCS president Levchenko calls for harsh penalties: ‘Stitches dropped’
“Deeply sad, unnecessary and scandalous,” are the words of Yevgeny Levchenko, president of players’ union VVCS, following the sad events at the Feyenoord – Ajax cup match, in which Ajacied Davy Klaassen was hit by an object thrown from the stands.
Levchenko says those responsible are making mistakes when it comes to misconduct by supporters. He calls for harsh punishments. Levchenko also stresses that this is not the first time he has called on authorities to act. “After that blow to Jetro Willems recently at Groningen against Heerenveen, it was waiting for an even worse incident,” he said.
The VVCS president said he could repeat the call from then again now. “The safety of the players must come first. We have to move toward a model where the bad ones are punished harshly and can no longer gain access to the stadium.”
“On paper there are clear agreements and rules on how we can prevent such excesses, but then enforcement and action must be taken,” Levchenko continued.
Levchenko does not think banning supporters is a solution. “I still find that too easy. There will always be incidents in soccer. Sport triggers emotions among supporters and that is allowed, but the boundaries between emotion and violence are blurring more and more. It is no longer distinguishable from each other. Violence is increasingly the expression of emotion and that is not the correct representation of how soccer should be experienced.”
Hanging nets is also not his preference. “If hanging nets is actually a solution to prevent objects and fireworks from being thrown onto the pitch, then that is an option, but in my view that is not the way to a safer soccer environment. I often point to England, where they did tackle soccer violence smartly and effectively and where there are almost no more incidents. The key is to take out the bad ones and punish them harshly.”
But it should not just be about punishment, Levchenko believes. “We have to reward the good supporters somehow. So that there is a balance though. You can think of better seats in the stands or the occasional ‘meet and greet’ with players. With that you encourage good behavior.”