Only children attends Ajax-AZ Alkmaar rematch | inside World Soccer

Only children attends Ajax-AZ Alkmaar rematch

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Amsterdam ArenA became a children's paradise on Thursday when Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar played their Dutch Cup round of 16 rematch.

Some of the 22,000 children attend the replay of the Dutch Cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar
Some of the 22,000 children attend the replay of the Dutch Cup game between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar

Photo: AP

Around 22,000 kids attended the match, with the only adults the few permitted to chaperone the young supporters. Tickets were distributed for free.

The game was a replay of last month's contest which was suspended after a pitch invader attacked AZ goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado.

Alvarado defended himself and kicked the hooligan, but the referee, for some reason, showed him a red card for violent conduct.

In protest, AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek led his players off the field with Ajax leading 1-0, and the game was abandoned.

The Dutch football association KNVB rescinded Alvarado's red card and ordered Ajax to replay the game in an empty Amsterdam ArenA.

But Ajax had another idea in mind, asking KNVB to allow women and children to attend the game.

However, the ruling body insisted on following the national law regarding equal treatment of men and women, therefore only granting children entry.

And the children watched AZ beat Ajax 3-2 to win a place in the Dutch Cup quarter final.

"A strange atmosphere, but also a nice one," Verbeek said after the match.

AZ captain Maarten Martens added: "At the Olympics in Beijing, we played in front of Chinese supporters who had different kinds of chants and yells. It was like that here, but with kids. A very strange atmosphere."

Strange as it may have been, we are seeing good-faith attempts to discourage crowd trouble.

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