Football: Dutch fan dies in battle

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The Independent Online
One fan died and dozens were injured yesterday in a pre-arranged battle between supporters of the Dutch clubs Ajax and Feyenoord, who communicated by mobile phone to out-manoeuvre police.

Hundreds of fans from Amsterdam and Rotterdam armed with baseball bats, clubs and knives streamed to waste ground at Beverwijk, on the A9 motorway near Amsterdam, for a confrontation before Feyenoord's game against AZ Alkmaar.

"One man is known to have died, but as yet I have no details on the precise number of wounded," a police spokesman said.

Police said they had known the supporters planned to meet but were unable to prevent the bloodshed because the gang chose their battleground at the last minute and spread the word by mobile phone. "We would have needed airborne troops to get between them," a local police chief told Dutch radio.

Feyenoord's chairman, Jorien van den Herik, said it was "a black day for Dutch football." His Ajax counterpart, Michael van Praag, said that in the past he had called on other clubs and police to hammer out a joint policy to combat football violence. "Until now nothing has been done," he said.

Along with English fans, Dutch supporters were among Europe's most feared football hooligans in the 1970s, but better policing, based on tracking known hooligans, brought the violence under control.

English domestic football violence re-emerged at Loftus Road on Saturday during Queen's Park Rangers' Nationwide League First Division match against Portsmouth. The disturbance, which resulted in nine arrests and left at least four people injured, led to the match being halted and the referee, Kevin Lynch, taking the players off the pitch for 18 minutes early in the second half.

The Football Association's spokesman, Steve Double, said yesterday: "Obviously the problem will feature in the referee's report, and we will be studying police reports as well. It is a matter of great concern to us, and there will be a full inquiry into events."