By Chris Wright
Here’s a little firecracker to start the morning off. Last night’s last-16 tie in the KNVB Cup between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar had to be abandoned after just 38 minutes (with Ajax leading 1-0) after an incident involving a pitch invader caused the away side to leave the field in protest.
A 19-year old Ajax fan ran onto the pitch and leapt at AZ ‘keeper Esteban Alvarado, who duly knocked the supporter out of the air and proceeded to kick seven shades of stront out of him. Esteban was then sent off for ‘violent misconduct’ by referee Bas Nijhuis , which led his irate coach, Gert Jan Verbeek, to order his side to walk off as he ‘feared for the safety of his players’…
Of course, Esteban argued that he was purely acting in self-defense, but it didn’t wash with Nijhuis, who explained the red card thusly:
“I understand that Esteban was defending himself, but he walked to him (the supporter) and kicked him multiple times. He could also have walked away.”
An apology has since appeared on the Ajax website, confirming that the fan will be banned for life:
‘This was a terrible incident and we deeply regret it and offer our sincere apologies. The supporter has been handed over to the police.
“It was a 19-year old man who was probably under the influence of alcohol. He said he hated the AZ goalkeeper and had therefore attacked him.”
Drunk and full of hate? Suddenly, Esteban’s actions don’t seem quite so over-the-top, now do they?