FC Groningen and NEC struggle with suspended game: ‘A few tons of damage’
FC Groningen and NEC are struggling with the KNVB’s tightened measures that allow matches to be stopped and halted more quickly. Both clubs last weekend had the dubious honor of being involved in the first suspended Eredivisie match after the new policy was implemented.
“We question the current consequences of the introduced policy in relation to the consequences for club and supporters, who are in the same boat with each other,” a spokesman for the Groningers stated.
The match was stopped because a Groningen fan threw a mug of beer at a linesman. According to the club, the suspended match results in damages of “a few tons.”
The club questions whether it is reasonable to recover damages from an 18-year-old sinner. “The club thinks it is too early to anticipate this at this point and does not want to make this decision so soon after the disrupted evening.”
NEC director Wilco van Schaik sympathizes with the Groningers. “The club and the other 20,000 supporters have become the victims of this antisocial behavior,” he said.
Although the damage at his club is less because NEC was the away club, Van Schaik is also affected by the stoppage. “On a sporting level it is very annoying, but it is also bad for our supporters. They pay thirty euros and spend hours on the bus for an eighteen-minute match.”
The director also finds it difficult to determine who should pay for the costs. “You can’t make that person pay for everything themselves, and as a club you can’t eliminate that one crazy person,” he said.
Safe on the field
Still, he does think it is good that the measures are so strictly enforced. “You have to follow through now to nip the behavior of misbehaving supporters in the bud. If you implement these rules, you have to implement them. I find it really antisocial that people throw things on the field.”
Groningen also stressed that it distances itself from spectators who throw objects toward the field of play. “Players and arbitration must be safe on the field at all times,” he said.
That the rules are not always applied in the same way in practice also became clear last weekend. At the FC Twente-Sparta match (3-3), objects were thrown at Spartan Shurandy Sambo, partly because the goal scorer was ostentatiously cheering in front of the Twente crowd.
According to a KNVB spokesman, that match should have been stopped as well. “We are not going to explain every specific situation, but this is clear,” he said.
He also denounced Sambo’s behavior. “If we are all working to keep misbehavior out of the stadiums, then provoking supporters doesn’t help.”
In Groningen, according to Van Schaik, it was clear pretty quickly that the match would be stopped. “The referee was convinced,” he said.
This is agreed by a spokesman for the mayor of Groningen, Koen Schuiling, who is ultimately responsible for public order. “The mayor was known as part of the security triangle and he decided it was responsible to let people leave the stadium earlier.”
This decision might have been different if, for example, there had been another major event in the city. “After all, you have to mobilize the police earlier anyway to manage the flow of supporters,” the spokesman continued.
Van Schaik hopes supporters and everyone involved will learn lessons from Saturday’s events. “When you make these rules, you know that games are going to be stopped. You have to experience this to tighten policy. There will be continuous evaluation, so that clubs and well-intentioned supporters will not have to be victims later on.”
He doesn’t want to dwell too long on the incident, but he still needs to get one thing off his chest: “We’ve let it go much too far. We really need to get back to normal behavior in the stands. It’s not normal to throw things on the field. You don’t do that in the theater either. “