Are supporters allowed to do what protesters are not allowed to do? It’s not that black and white, say the authorities. The police must pay attention to more than just corona, as is the case with New Year’s Eve: disturbances, fireworks and other misery are then the most important.
Twelve thousand Ajax supporters who are hustling and packed to their club after winning the 35th national title. Not allowed, socially speaking certainly not at all, but it happened next to the Johan Cruijff Arena on Sunday.
Indignation therefore rippled through the country. Was this sometimes a preferential treatment for football fans? And by extension the question: are supporters allowed to do what (corona) protesters are not allowed? Why do the municipality and police allow this much larger crowd and why are demonstrators sprayed off the Museumplein with a water cannon?
“It’s not all that black and white,” responds the spokesman for Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema. “We allowed a lot at all kinds of demonstrations, which was also the case on Sunday at a demonstration against the corona measures.”
The big difference with protesters is that they simply fall under the right of demonstration, says mayor Ron König of Deventer – he is also preparing for a possible ceremony, should Go Ahead be promoted to the premier league. ‘We can therefore link rules to that right of demonstration. These rules are more difficult to enforce with spontaneous incursions such as at the Johan Cruijff Arena. But that does not mean that there is less room for protesters. Or more space for supporters. ‘
For König, as the person ultimately responsible for public order, it does not matter who the police must act against, he emphasizes. ‘If necessary, we do it to protesters and supporters. Although you prefer not to do that at all, of course. ‘
What is important for the municipality of Amsterdam ‘in a general sense’ not to resort to police action? There must be a prospect of an end, the spokesman said. ‘That is why we also urged Ajax on Sunday to end that scene at the parking deck. We were then very well able to dispose of the crowd in phases using traps. ‘
In Leeuwarden it went wrong this weekend when a group of Cambuur supporters wanted to celebrate their club’s championship party in the center. The squad had just flown in turns in a helicopter over the city, so that supporters could wave them to from their own garden or street. In the center, the police intervened when a group of 70 men, according to the municipality in possession of alcohol and fireworks, refused to leave and the police started pelting.
The supporters believe that the police have escalated the case. They also do not understand why the municipality did tolerate an earlier ceremony of Cambuur at the stadium and a full park (Prinsentuin) on King’s Day. It had also been too busy in Amsterdam before: as in the Vondelpark, practically every time the sun shines.
Municipalities have been in their stomach for some time with festivities that can mobilize a group of supporters. On April 12, the mayors had mutual consultations with a football club that could become champions or in some other way possibly have something to celebrate. König and Halsema were there, as were the colleagues from Arnhem (Vitesse could still win the cup final at the time), Leeuwarden and Doetinchem (De Graafschap can promote on Friday), Almere, Breda and Nijmegen (clubs from those cities have a chance of promotion via the after-competition ).
The main agenda item: what do you do as a municipality with supporters who want to cheer their club physically? “A very complicated issue,” says König. ‘Because you can’t really stop supporters from wanting to celebrate something like that. And the question is whether you should want to. I especially make an urgent appeal to people to stay at home, to continue to be careful. ‘
What you can do is make good agreements with football clubs, says mayor Paul Depla of Breda. ‘Thinking together about how you can reduce the chance that things will get out of hand. Is that nice? No. I compare it with New Year’s Eve. Then your most important starting points are to prevent disturbances of public order, violence, fireworks and other misery. Only then does corona come into the picture. ‘
According to König, there is no good solution conceivable in situations such as Sunday in Amsterdam. ‘You have to enforce, but as a mayor you don’t want to face your residents either. You have to be careful that as a mayor you do not take full responsibility for events that you cannot foresee, while you cannot fulfill that promise at all. ‘
Outgoing Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus was satisfied on Monday with the way in which the Amsterdam triangle has brought the supporters’ party to a quiet end: ‘Not an ugly word about that’. At the same time, he, like fellow minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health), finds it unacceptable that so many people were close to each other. “There is no justification for letting go of the rules,” said De Jonge Monday.
Groups in the Amsterdam city council also have questions about this. VVD party leader Marianne Poot got ‘stomach ache’ from the images of the ‘spontaneous’ supporters party – the adjective comes from Ajax and the municipality. “Just try to explain to entrepreneurs and healthcare workers what happened there,” she says.
Poot therefore wants to know what the considerations were for Halsema not to intervene. ‘There is still something to worry about, so I expect that the mayor will at least come up with a statement of facts about the basic principles of this policy, the considerations and what exactly happened.’
Appearance of legal inequality
The ChristenUnie and the CDA also have questions about this. CU party chairman Gerjan van den Heuvel wants in any case to prevent the appearance of legal inequality, ‘as if it would be allowed in this case because it concerns Ajax’. He is also curious why an emergency ordinance had been issued for Leidseplein in the center and not for the area around the Arena.
“You don’t stop people with an emergency ordinance,” said Halsema’s spokesperson. ‘That is not the intention of an emergency ordinance at all: it helps you to maintain public order. That’s why you check for alcohol, fireworks and weapons. But you don’t keep people out of the area. ‘
The Deventer mayor König understands ‘very well’ that you try to keep supporters out of the city. In his own city, this becomes more difficult: the Go Ahead stadium is located in the middle of a residential area, a fifteen minute walk from the center.
Depla: ‘One thing you know for sure: an event like a championship makes so much movement to supporters. All kinds of calls to stay away from work after all. That’s the same as that ban on shouting back in the stadiums. It doesn’t work that way. ‘