"Racist" attack on young Ajax player's manager after Helmond match; "Unacceptable" says Helmond sport director

Jong Ajax player Mees de Wit with manager Stefano van Delden
Jong Ajax player Mees de Wit with manager Stefano van DeldenPhoto: Mees De Wit / Facebook

Stefano van Delden, manager of Jong Ajax player Mees de Wit, was attacked after a football match in Helmond on Friday night. "It was clearly about my skin color", he said, according to RTL Nieuws. He pressed charges of public violence and vandalism with the police. Football director of Helmond Sport, Marcel van den Bunder, condemned the violence on Monday. He called it "unacceptable" and "unworthy of Helmond Sport" in a response to Omroep Brabant. 

Van Delden was walking with De Wit's brother and seriously ill father after the match when he was suddenly surrounded by a group of eight people, according to RTL. One of them repeatedly shouted at Van Delden: "Where are you from?" The football manager decided to leave and return with his car to pick up De Wit's family. But when he returned, his car was also attacked and he drove off. De Wit's father and brother were later tracked down with the help of the police. De Wit's brother managed to fend off an attack, but his father was kicked in the head and beaten.

Van Delden is convinced this was a racist attack. "It was clearly about my skin color. If it had just been supporters violence, they wouldn't have aimed it especially at me", he said, according to RTL. 

His story is confirmed by journalist Sjors van Veen, who was following the young Ajax players for the Ajax Showtime website. He was with Van Delden and also got a beating. In his report of events, Van Veen writes about a "frightening evening in Helmond". "Before I knew it, I was attacked by three or four dudes in their twenties", Van Veen wrote. "I couldn't do anything, made myself small and decided not to fight back, as it would only make the punches harder. I was worked into a shrub, they threw beer over me, after which I decided to stay down."

Van Veen is surprised that people are still "attacked because of your skin color, origin or accent, that you are physically handled by a majority, making you feel powerless, that you can do nothing and only want to run away, but can't." 

Both Van Delden and Van Veen were contacted by Helmond Sport, the club against which Jong Ajax played that night, after the attack. The club offered excuses and are looking for the perpetrators.

"It shames you a little bit", Helmond Sport's football director Marcel van den Bunder said to Omroep Brabant on Monday. "I heard about it on Saturday morning, after Stefano put something on his Facebook page. I'm terribly shocked of course. I find every form of verbal or physical violence unacceptable, and certainly if it happens through Helmond Sport fans." The perpetrators will be tracked down and punished for their actions, he added. "I find this extremely tiresome. Helmond Sport unworthy. I do not want to jump ahead of the police, but if such things happen, there should be punishment", he said. "If we find out who it was, we will pass it on to the police and we will also punish those people ourselves."