Criticism focuses on Ajax, but municipality finally put line through tribute Ajax women

Criticism focuses on Ajax, but municipality finally put line through tribute Ajax women
Ajax women celebrate national title

NOS Soccer

There was much outrage since last night over the cancellation of Ajax’s inauguration as women’s national champions. The arrows were initially aimed at the management of the Amsterdam soccer club. But now it appears that not Ajax has put a line through the inauguration, but the municipality of Amsterdam.

A spokesman for the municipality confirms that Amsterdam has pulled the plug on the inauguration: “Ajax did not want to cooperate on Monday Whit Monday on Leidseplein. They asked us to abandon that date and location. We were then forced to pull the plug.”

Not an option

The soccer club would not want the inauguration to take place until after the summer or in 2024. That was not an option for the municipality as organizer. The latter wanted the inauguration to be the conclusion of the season, as is the case with the men’s team.

Ajax would not have been open to a short-term alternative. The inauguration was therefore called off. The municipality did not want a new date after the summer. And so now there will be no inauguration at all.

Ajax denied Tuesday night that the club did not want the inauguration until 2024.

Mayor Femke Halsema together with Alderman for Sports Sofyan Mbarki welcomes the Ajax soccer players to her official residence.

Ajax gave as its reason “not being behind the timing and location of the offered inauguration.” “The championship was some time ago (May 7) and so the momentum is over. And the suspicion is that attendance is disappointing, which is not good for the image of women’s soccer,” the club said in a statement.

But a tribute under different conditions is what the club would have wanted, it now appears.

‘No enemies needed’

The Ajax management came under fire immediately after the news broke. People from the soccer world, politics and others involved reacted in disbelief.

“Downright sexist,” said D66 party chairwoman of Amsterdam Ilana Rooderkerk. “With such friends you don’t need enemies,” responded international Merel van Dongen, who played for Ajax between 2015 and 2018. “What can the Ajax women do about the fact that the little guys have failed this season?” argued Ajax follower Arco Gnocchi.

A missed opportunity, sports journalist Barbara Barend called the decision to cancel the inauguration on Radio 1. “The women have worked very hard for this. I think that if they still do the inauguration, the whole Leidseplein will be packed.”

Barend doesn’t understand why the club didn’t want the inauguration Monday on Leidseplein. “I’m a little afraid it was reasoned out of fear. Fear perhaps of supporter riots, from the men. Fear that too few people will attend.” Especially that last argument she doesn’t understand.

“This year Ajax played against Feyenoord in the Arena, which attracted more than 30,000 spectators. You have to do something like that precisely to make sure people come to see it.”

The Ajax women were received last week at the official residence of Mayor Femke Halsema

Pim Olde Hampsink, press officer for FC Twente Women, thinks you should just celebrate every championship – men’s or women’s – “I see that as separate from men’s soccer.”

The Twente women have been national champions eight times. “That has been celebrated every time. In 2019 with a lap of honor through the stadium. Last year we coupled their upcoming national championship with a celebration for the men who qualified for European soccer. That attracted 10,000 supporters. You have to be creative sometimes.”

Always tribute

Administrative problems, which Twente also struggled with for years, have never been a reason for the club not to honor the women, Olde Hampsink says. In 2016, for example, Twente honored the women after they won the national championship, despite financial scandals at the men’s side and the resignation of the president.

Still, somewhere he understands Ajax refraining from a celebration. “If Ajax estimates that there is little enthusiasm for a ceremony with an audience, I can understand that consideration.”

The KNVB states that they do not comment publicly on matters that take place at club level.

Kayleigh Williams