Wed, 29 Nov 2023

THE HAGUE, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Sunday's Dutch top-flight match between Ajax and Feyenoord in Amsterdam was suspended after Ajax fans threw fireworks onto the field twice, with the second incident occurring shortly after the break.

This marked only the second time in history that the "Klassieker," the Dutch Classic in the Eredivisie between Ajax and Feyenoord, faced an official suspension. The first was on January 21, 1968, due to dense fog. Unlike the previous instance, this suspension stemmed from fan behavior, marking a low point in what has been a disappointing season for Dutch soccer powerhouse Ajax.

This edition of the Dutch Classic began with an unusual dynamic. Reigning champions Feyenoord entered as the favorites, while Ajax, typically a dominant force, found themselves in a historically low 13th position after a series of lackluster performances. Coach Maurice Steijn struggled to mold his squad, which saw multiple new additions.

Ajax's challenges extended beyond on-field performance. New technical director Sven Mislintat acquired 12 players during the summer transfer window, spending approximately 110 million euros. Many questioned the quality of these signings for Ajax, and the team's recent performances haven't silenced the critics.

Further complicating matters, Mislintat faced scrutiny over a potential conflict of interest regarding the transfer of Borna Sosa from VfB Stuttgart to Ajax. The Croatian international's acquisition involved a German management firm that holds shares in a soccer data company partially owned by Mislintat. Ajax has since launched an investigation into the transfer.

In the Johan Cruijff Arena, without Mislintat watching, Ajax's performance against Feyenoord mirrored their recent struggles, particularly on defense. Santiago Gimenez quickly put Feyenoord ahead, and the Mexican striker added another following a blunder by Anton Gaaei.

In response, Ajax coach Steijn substituted right-back Gaaei for Devyne Rensch just 30 minutes into the match. However, Ajax's errors persisted. After an Ajax corner, Sosa attempted a shot that was blocked, paving the way for Feyenoord's Igor Paixao to capitalize on a swift counterattack, making it 3-0.

Some Ajax fans, seemingly frustrated, threw fireworks onto the pitch before the break. This led referee Serdar Gozubuyuk to temporarily halt the match and direct the teams to the locker rooms.

After a 10-minute pause, the match resumed. However, another fireworks incident shortly into the second half led to the game's official suspension.

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