Matthijs Keuning is worried. He is chairman of the Dutch Supporters Collective and sees things happen that don’t make him happy. “The bar is getting lower and lower for imposing bans on away supporters,” he says.

Prohibition in Leeuwarden

The best example of Keuning’s statement is found in Leeuwarden. Mayor Sybrand Buma does not want to see supporters of football clubs in his city move away this season. Reason: the riots after the match against sc Heerenveen at the end of February. What is strange is that the away supporters did not cause any riot, it was the Cambuur Leeuwarden supporters who did it themselves.

The club itself strongly disagrees with the decision. “As SC Cambuur we deeply regret this decision and it is above all a misstep and also in the wrong direction,” the club said.

Things are not going well in Groningen either. Police in the North of the Netherlands said in a statement that he refuses to accompany Cambuur and FC Groningen fans to away games. Too often it goes wrong, police say. Joop de Schepper, acting police chief of the Northern Netherlands: “As police, we cannot afford to be present en masse every time to facilitate a football match.”

“No longer lead a small group of supporters”

In Groningen, officers faced intimidating and threatening behavior from the hard core, police said. This would also happen in the private sphere. In Leeuwarden, we always need a lot of police. “We are no longer facilitating a small group of supporters, at the expense of a large group of police and citizens,” police said.

The FC Groningen Fans’ Association says it is taking a “significant distance” from threats against officers. But: “As a fan association, we can never accept the collective punishment of well-meaning FC Groningen fans.”

Police spokesperson Maarten Brink understands the police’s choices, you can read his arguments in the tweet below:

Mayor Buma van Leeuwarden therefore chooses not to allow fans to travel to the Frisian capital for other home games this season. This when they actually have nothing to do with it. According to Keuning, the decision can sometimes backfire. “Relationships are much clearer if you allow fans back in later. It’s no use to you.”

‘To move back’

Mayor Buma is not the only one opting for this horse remedy. Earlier this season, a travel ban for away supporters was also chosen at Kerkrade at the Roda JC. And it also happened after disruptions from home fans.

These kinds of bans, like in Kerkrade and Leeuwarden, are new, says Keuning. This has happened sometimes in the past, but only in high risk matches, like Ajax – Feyenoord, or ADO Den Haag – Ajax. Now the fans of the clubs who weren’t present at the game at all are screwed. “We are going backwards in this way and we lack a vision of how we can move forward again,” says Keuning.

Sometimes things go really wrong

It seems very unfriendly to treat your guests like that, but sometimes really annoying things happen in the entertainment industry. Recently, Twente fans threw chairs onto the pitch at Go Ahead Eagles from the away section, causing the game to be called off.

Matthijs Keuning from the fan collective also sees that things sometimes go wrong and also believes that people have to be taken care of. “But get on the perpetrators. There’s hypermodern camera surveillance everywhere. Or better yet: get into preventative measures like youth work. That will help you.”

The FC Groningen Fans’ Association also sees it this way: “We hope that those who do this will soon be caught. But all FC Groningen fans who sometimes visit an away game now bear the consequences of the actions of the individuals and are declared in the various declarations also more or less rejected as partisans who must be kept apart.”

The bus combo

By far most Eredivisie matches are welcome for ‘normal’ supporters. But even where they are allowed to enter, the path becomes more and more difficult. For example, the authorities are increasingly using the means of the “combi bus”. This means that supporters must take the bus from a location within their own club’s city.

A subsidiary in Germany:

The Keuning supporters collective keeps track of these numbers. This season, a bus suit applies to 21% of matches so far, in 2020 (the last year before corona) only 7% of matches. Competitions with “free shipping” are actually down from 15% in 2020 to 8% now. Free transport means it doesn’t matter how you get to the stadium. Keuning immediately adds, “We also find that municipalities and the police are more likely to take action like this because of the shortage of police personnel.”

“This season really breaks the trend”

Keuning says that until the arrival of the corona virus, there was a slow easing of heavy transport regulations. “There were fewer bus combinations, but since 2019 there has been a drop from free transport to private transport, so it is mandatory to travel by car instead of totally free. This season there is really a huge trend break with many more bus combinations and even less free transport.”

So these days you think twice or thrice before going to an away game at your favorite club. Because if you do that, you’re often not in a good place in the stadium. In the Netherlands, unlike Germany and England for example, we often place guests high up in a corner, where no one can see them.

This hurts Keuning a bit. “In Germany and England they have decided that it is part of the football culture, away fans are prominent in the stadium, in England even mandatory in the first ring. In the Netherlands we criminalize them. With fences, nets and a place in a corner or on top.”

Background singers

Is it really catastrophic in the country of away supporters? Not that either. We end on a positive note. Literally, because in Leeuwarden, which was still criticized in this article, things were going very well before they were banned. Keuning: “At half-time there was a singer coming out of every game. It’s good to party with a beer in hand. Good for the atmosphere, and it shows in the stands. “

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