Dutch football club Ajax Amsterdam’s home game against defending league champions Feyenoord has been abandoned as fans threw flares onto the pitch and police used tear gas to disperse rioters outside the stadium.
A group of angry Ajax fans tried to force their way into the Johan Cruyff Arena on Sunday after the game was halted with the home side trailing 3-0, leading the police to disperse them with tear gas.
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Hours later, Ajax fired its director of football, Sven Mislintat, who had joined the club in May.
“Various attempts to restore broader support have not led to the desired results, and this is leading to unrest in and around the club, also due to the disappointing performances,” interim director Jan van Halst said.
Ajax, who have had a poor start to the season with just one win, sit 14th in the 18-team Eredivise league after four matches.
Before Sunday’s match was called off, it had already been stopped twice before the break by a referee because of fans throwing fireworks and a plastic cup onto the field.
Scenes before Ajax vs Feyenoord was abandoned. pic.twitter.com/QfiqNCNdX7
— KY⚽ (@ElijahKyama_) September 25, 2023
“After the stopped game, supporters broke into the main [stadium] entrance. Order has since been restored,” police said.
When flares were thrown onto the pitch for a second time, with many landing near the goal, the referee stopped the match and directed the players down the tunnel.
Fans paid no heed as the club displayed the message “Lighting of fireworks is prohibited” on the big screen at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Feyenoord manager Arne Slot said it was “especially annoying” that his side were not able to finish what had been a superb performance.
“In this way the chance for something very beautiful is taken away from us,” he said on the club website. “We understand the decision that has been taken, but we do not feel a sense of victory.”
— Football 𝕏 (@Football__X) September 24, 2023
The KNVB, or Royal Dutch Football Association, told broadcaster NOS it hoped to make a decision on Monday about whether to reschedule the remainder of the match or award the win to Feyenoord but added it might take longer.
Caretaker Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius said in a message on X, formerly Twitter: “This no longer has anything to do with football and being a supporter. You play with the safety of the players, fellow supporters and yourself. Shame on you!”
Ajax finished third last season and failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 13 seasons.
They had finished as champions seven times and runners-up another five over the previous 12 seasons.