Red card: Football union calls for action to protect players

Beer is thrown at Santiago Gimenez of Feyenoord. Photo: Gerrit van Keulen ANP
Beer is thrown at Santiago Gimenez of Feyenoord. Photo: Gerrit van Keulen ANP

The Dutch football players union VVCS has called on the football association KNVB to do more to protect players’ following a string of incidents in recent weeks.

‘People running on to the pitch, throwing beer. It is absurd,’ the union said on Twitter. ‘We are once again reminding the KNVB of its duty to ensure a safe environment for players.’

Trouble on the pitch during the Groningen-Heerenveen match last weeked resulted in Groningen player Jetro Willems being punched by a supporter. A teenager has since been arrested.

Last month, a PSV supporter attacked the Sevilla keeper during their Europa League tie. The 20-year-old has been given a 40-year stadium ban and a three month suspended jail sentence.

Technically it is the home club which is responsible for security inside the stadium, while the police are in charge outside, apart from during internationals. However, VVCS chairman Evgeniy Levchenko told news broadcaster NOS that more can be done.

‘It is just a matter of time before something goes seriously wrong, particularly when drink and drugs are involved,’ Levchenko said. ‘Soon a player will be knocked out, or a nutcase will come on the pitch with a knife.’

Nets around the pitch and an alcohol ban are among the options, he said.

Last season, 179 instances of crowd trouble were registered by the KNVB and 1,250 people were given a stadium ban. That is twice the number of 10 years ago and largely down the increased popularity of setting off fireworks and throwing missiles.

‘Since coronavirus the football public has become younger with a new generation of supporters who resist every form of authority,’ a KNVB spokesman told NOS. ‘The beer and fireworks are being thrown by a group who do not know how to behave normally.’

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