Dutch cup game set for replay after fan incident

Updated: December 22, 2011

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch football federation said Thursday it has yet to decide whether to replay a cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar that was halted after a supporter ran onto the field and tried to attack Alkmaar’s goalkeeper.

The alert Costa Rican goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado deflected the attack by a 19-year-old fan, tripping him with a karate-like kick. But Alvarado was given a red card for kicking the supporter again in anger twice immediately afterward before the intruder was dragged off by security guards.

Alkmaar coach Gertjan Verbeek ordered his side to walk out in protest rather than play with 10 men and the game was halted in the 36th minute. Ajax was leading 1-0 on a goal by Gregory van der Wiel.

Opinions are divided about whether referee Bas Nijhuis was right to send Alvarado off. Nijhuis defended the decision, saying that once the supporter was on the ground, he no longer posed a threat.

But Ajax coach Frank de Boer noted that for all Alvarado knew, the supporter could have been carrying a weapon or gotten up to attack again.

“Maybe I would have done the same thing, maybe not,” said De Boer, a renowned former defender for Netherlands’ national team, of Alvarado’s reaction. “But emotionally I do understand it.”

The Dutch players’ union has demanded that the red card be retracted.

“This cannot lead to a suspension” for Alvarado, said union chief Danny Hesp, arguing that Alvarado’s reaction to an unexpected, unprovoked attack was justifiable under the circumstances. The union “will do everything it can to fight this” decision, he said.

The federation said Thursday it will decide “soon” whether Wednesday’s match should be replayed, resumed, or have Ajax declared the winner.

Police are holding the 19-year-old supporter, who was not identified, on assault charges. Police are also holding 25 other supporters arrested during and after the match. After the early end to the round-of-16 match, Ajax supporters clashed with riot police outside Amsterdam’s ArenA stadium.

Alkmaar defended its decision not to continue playing. The team’s players “didn’t feel safe anymore in this situation,” said club director Toon Gerbrands.

Ajax director Jeroen Slop said Ajax had apologized for the security lapse, and AZ had accepted the apology.

“An incident with one half-wit in a stadium of 40,000 people, you don’t have control over that,” he said. He said the supporter had “in all likelihood been drinking.”

He added that the fan “had made it known that he detests the AZ keeper and that’s why he attacked him.”

Slop said Ajax will give the fan a lifetime ban from attending its games.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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