Utrecht mayor defends call to ban Ajax fans despite KNVB, Ajax criticism
Utrecht mayor Jan van Zanen "can not deny" that Ajax fans are being duped by the decision not to allow away fans at the match between FC Utrecht and Ajax on December 13th, but he is sticking to the decision. According to him, this is the only way he can guarantee their safety. The mayor said this in a written response to questions raised by the Utrecht factions of the PvdA, GroenLinks and D66, AD reports. Van Zanen writes that he banned the Ajax supporters because he cannot guarantee the saftey in the stadium. This is because the Utrecht hardcore supporters will be spread out throughout the stadium, instead of in their own box on the Bunnik Side. The KNVB ordered this box empty in a penalty imposed on FC Utrecht for antisemitic chants during the previous FC Utrecht vs Ajax match. Van Zanen does not think that the other options - cancelling the match entirely or banning both away and home fans - will be effective. According to him, canceling the match will only lead to the problems presenting themselves on a later date. And banning all fans is "a step backwards rather than towards normalization". The Utrecht city council will debate the decision to ban Ajax fans on Thursday, November 26th. Ajax previously stated that they are very disappointed by Van Zanen's decision. "With this trick they circumvent their punishment, with the result that we now have to play without fans", financial director Jeroen Slop said after the decision was announced. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan called FC Utrecht's decision to allow supporters who chant antisemitic slogans "a big mistake"