No public at FC Groningen matches this season
Supporters of FC Groningen are not welcome in the stands at the last two matches of the premier league season. No Groningen supporters will be allowed at both the away match against Vitesse and the home match against Sparta. Mayor Koen Schuiling of Groningen said this during the council meeting on the misconduct of Groningen hooligans.
The mayor took the measure after a conversation with the board of FC Groningen. The subject was on the council’s agenda after Sunday’s match between Groningen and Ajax was stopped after nine minutes because smoke bombs had been thrown onto the field repeatedly and a protesting supporter had walked onto the field. This was a deliberate action by part of the club’s supporters.
Today the Dagblad van het Noorden wrote that Groningen hooligans were threatening club personnel. As a result, security guards would, for example, turn a blind eye to fireworks for fear of reprisals.
For next season, Schuiling wants to see how admitting the public is possible again. “The club is dear to us and the good supporters did not deserve this,” the mayor said. He announced an independent investigation into security at the stadium.
Through this investigation, the mayor hopes to find out what measures are needed to increase security. Better camera surveillance, security and netting in front of the stands may also be an option. In a general sense, “the club’s organization must become more resilient to this kind of influence,” Schuiling said.
Schuiling also elaborated a bit on the problems of some of the club’s supporters. He said the groups causing problems have changed since the corona pandemic. For a long time during the pandemic they played without an audience. So far, all measures taken to stop the nuisance have not worked sufficiently.
According to Schuiling, it is a misconception that the “disruptive behavior” is exhibited by single individuals. “It involves hefty groups,” he says. Even though he emphasizes that “97 percent of the supporters are supporters,” he calls the disruptive group not supporters but hooligans.
There have been problems in Groningen all season. Since the fall, the police do not want to accompany away supporters of the club because of threats from police officers. In November, supporters set off fireworks in the home match against Fortuna Sittard, which resulted in a fine for the club. In January, supporters of the club entered the field against Cambuur.
In March, own player Jetro Willems was beaten by an FC Groningen hooligan during the match against Heerenveen. In April, the match against NEC was stopped because the linesman was hit by a plastic cup of beer. So last Sunday things went wrong again.
FC Groningen is offering supporters with season tickets compensation. They can claim money back for the matches against NEC and Ajax that were not played out, and for the match against Sparta that will be played in an empty stadium. Supporters who would have gone along to Vitesse will get their money back.