‘Football alone cannot solve this problem’
“It was a sad evening,” Jan de Jong says bluntly, looking back on a noisy night of soccer at De Kuip. The misconduct of a Feyenoord supporter who threw an object at the head of Ajax player Davy Klaassen does not leave the director of the Eredivisie CV cold.
“I’m not going to trivialize this, it’s disgraceful what happened there. But if you wanted to take one positive thing out of it, it’s that within five minutes the perpetrator was caught. The cameras did their job when they had to. Let that be clear to everyone, clubs have invested in that. In the stadiums where you might expect such incidents, there are these kinds of systems in place. Clubs, within the capabilities they have, try to do everything they can to detect it. Although you’d rather nothing happens at all.”
‘Clubs feel this’
A consultation was already scheduled today in Stadion Galgenwaard in Utrecht with the eighteen clubs from the premier league. Plenty of topics for discussion, but logically it was mainly about the events during the Feyenoord-Ajax cup clash. “The clubs feel this. Don’t forget that eight million Dutch people enjoy soccer every week. Eredivisie soccer is top sport, but also entertainment. And you want that to take place in a fun and pleasant environment.”
There seems to be a trend, where supporter disturbances have shifted from outside to inside the stadium. And that players are the target these days. “That it focuses on players, I don’t recognize directly,” De Jong believes.
Jan de Jong: ‘It’s a social problem that also manifests itself in soccer’
“We do see that the police deployment before corona became less and less every year, especially if you see where we come from in the 1980s. But now it seems like since corona there is a hardening in society. People are more aggressive, want to express themselves more, even in soccer stadiums. I am not a psychologist, but apparently there is a lot of anger in society.”
“On the other hand, the stadiums are heartily full,” De Jong observes. “There is a need to go to soccer. Almost all clubs’ matches are rigidly sold out. People want to be there, but at the same time you see this kind of curious behavior. We don’t want to play for our own judge, that’s what justice is for. But the fan who did this yesterday should be punished as severely as possible as far as Feyenoord is concerned.”
‘We need help from others of’
A social trend, but what about the responsibility of soccer clubs as organizers of the events where the misconduct finds its way? “All eighteen clubs feel they have a responsibility in this and want to contribute to the solution. A lot is already being done, but apparently not enough. We need help from others. The government.”
Asked how it is possible for supporters to smuggle large quantities of fireworks into the stadium, as was the case at Feyenoord-Ajax, De Jong says: “Probably the control has to be even more intensive, but you also have to get 50,000 people into the stadium within a certain time frame. That’s complicated, because you don’t want annoyance either. But all those fireworks are not what you want.”
Jan de Jong: “This is a problem we need to solve together.
Should legislation become stricter to help soccer tackle the supporter problem? “As professional soccer, we would very much like to see a digital reporting requirement, so that you know where someone with a stadium ban is. But that is something of the police and the government, a soccer club cannot do that at all. We can only advocate and lobby for that digital reporting requirement to be introduced as soon as possible.”
“It’s a problem we have to solve together. Small organizations like soccer clubs cannot do this alone. There is a hardening in society that has gained momentum after corona, but it is a problem that is not exclusive to soccer. It’s broader. The clubs are doing everything they can for it, you can call them on it, but our responsibility starts somewhere and also ends somewhere.”