Supporters of NEC are not welcome in Arnhem during the Gelderse derby between Vitesse on Sunday 27 February in Gelredome. Any further relaxation of the corona rules for visiting football matches will not affect that decision, Arnhem mayor Ahmed Marcouch said.
Banning away supporters is a response to the disturbances that broke out in Nijmegen in mid-October last year after Vitesse had won the first derby 0-1 since 2017. Serious riots broke out around the stadium. Several police officers were injured and about forty arrests were made. A police van was also destroyed.
“In view of these events and to prevent public order from being disturbed again,” Marcouch has decided, in consultation with the police, the judiciary and both football clubs, not to allow any audience at the return in Arnhem. It may not stop at one time. Marcouch wants to make an inventory with all those involved whether the NEC supporters are welcome next season.
“The football stadium should be a place where you can safely enjoy an exciting match, together with your children and friends,” says Marcouch. “I will not allow these sports fans to be endangered by a bunch of so-called supporters who are out to disturb the peace.”
‘Well-meaning NEC supporters are the victims’
Marcouch points to a series of incidents in recent months, also in the run-up to NEC-Vitesse, the first derby in years and therefore very fraught. “Unfortunately, the well-meaning NEC supporters become the victims of a small group of rioters,” says Marcouch.
It is the first time the Gelderse Derby will be played without away supporters. However, the measure is not unique in the Dutch competition. The so-called Classic, between Ajax and Feyenoord, has only been played for the home crowd since 2009 due to a series of disturbances. In Amsterdam only Ajax fans are welcome, in Rotterdam only supporters of Feyenoord.
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