Amsterdam ArenA to be renamed for Ajax football legend Johan Cruijff
The Amsterdam ArenA football stadium and concert venue will be renamed Johan Cruijff Arena, a move that will no doubt please fans of both Amsterdam football club AFC Ajax and the Dutch national football team. The announcement was made late on Tuesday evening, what would have been Cruijff's 70th birthday. The football legend died on March 24, 2016, after battling lung cancer.
Along with the stadium name change, a street, square or bridge adjacent to the arena will also be named for Cruijff, Ajax announced. Cruijff's son Jordi told the team he and the surviving family are pleased with the decision. Previously, the younger Cruijff was disappointed that a year after his father's death it still seemed like his legacy was not being honored even though Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan made assurances there would be a permanent memorial in the city.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) April 25, 2017
"He was one of the best footballers ever," Ajax stated. "An Amsterdammer who enjoyed fame all over the world for his contribution to football as a player, coach and as a benefactor through his Foundation."
The sentiment was shared by many in the global football community who mourned his death. Even Ajax rival club Feyenoord tweeted, "Deeply saddened by the death of Johan Cruijff, the greatest Dutch footballer of all time," on the day he died.
The agreement was made as part of a negotiation on the stadium's future management, as well as changes to the ownership structure, the football team said in a press release. The package of measures will be submitted for approval within the next six months to all parties involved, including the Amsterdam City Council, as well as both the management and supervisory boards of the stadium and AFC Ajax. Mayor Van der Laan, Alderman Eric van der Burg and Alderman Kajsa Ollongren negotiated the deal on the city's behalf.
"The parties are convinced that this is a fair memorial to Johan Cruijff, and express hope that the Johan Cruijff Arena is an inspiration for players from all over the world," the team said. Shortly after Cruijff's death, thousands of people signed petitions demanding that the stadium be renamed for the footballer.