Fans criticize another exclusion from the European Cup game

The Stade Velodrome in Marseille

The Stade Velodrome in Marseille (imago images / PanoramiC / Gwendoline Le Goff via

On November 30th, Ajax will play Olympique Marseille in the group stage of the Europa League at the Stade Velodrome. According to the wishes of the local authorities, Ajax fans should not be there. Frédérique Camilleri, the police prefect of the Bouche-du-Rhone prefecture, cited several reasons in his decision: fans without tickets were expected, Ajax ultras were particularly violent and there had already been clashes in the first leg in Amsterdam.

In addition, AEK Athens also plays in the same group. The Greek club’s supporters maintain a fan friendship with Olympique, while at the same time there is a great rivalry between Ajax and AEK. A similar constellation contributed to violence around a Europa Conference League game in Marseille in 2022. There have also been several recent incidents during Marseille games in the French league.

The consequence: people who are recognizable as Ajax fans will not be in the stadium or in several specific parts of the city between November 29th and December 1st. But there is criticism of the approach.

After the Naples-Frankfurt precedent, the approach set a precedent

“This decision means – once again – that thousands of fans who booked flights, accommodation and applied for vacation after the draw will be denied the opportunity to see their team play,” says Martin Endemann from the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) fan alliance. in conversation with Deutschlandfunk.

In March 2023, Italian authorities banned Eintracht Frankfurt fans from attending the game at SSC Napoli. Philipp Reschke, board member at Eintracht, said on Hessischer Rundfunk in March: “Pandora’s box may have been opened here. We hope that this doesn’t set a precedent.”

But that’s exactly what happened: AS Roma against Feyenoord, Nice against Basel, Feyenoord against Lazio, Lazio – Feyenoord and now Marseille against Ajax – visiting fans were always not allowed based on official decisions. Endemann says these measures “are now occurring with worrying regularity.”

Martin Endemann from the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) fan alliance

Martin Endemann from the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) fan alliance (imago / Zink / Sportfoto Zink / HMI)

Ceferin announced consequences and rule changes

After the incident in Naples, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin promised consequences. “This situation is intolerable and we urgently need to do something about it, because the authorities’ decision is absolutely not correct,” said Ceferin on ZDF at the time.

“We have to say: If something like that happens, we won’t play there. Quite simply: we will change the rules.” However, the rules have not been changed since then and UEFA has not postponed any games.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin (IMAGO / Eibner / IMAGO / Eibner press photo / Florian Wiegan)

In response to a query from Deutschlandfunk about its further approach to the game between Marseille and Ajax, UEFA said that it “takes note of the decision of the local authorities”. The authorities are “responsible for decisions regarding the security of the games taking place on their territory.” The association did not answer the questions as to whether the rules would be changed as Ceferin announced or whether the game could be moved to another location.

Sports lawyer: “No rule change necessary”

“A rule change is actually not necessary for a game to be postponed,” says sports lawyer Stephan Dittl in an interview with Deutschlandfunk. According to UEFA regulations, home clubs must give at least five percent of the tickets to fans of the visiting club. “If the home club is not allowed to sell the tickets, it cannot fulfill this obligation. This raises the question of whether UEFA will order the club to move the game to a venue where this obligation can be fulfilled.”

The regulations in the European Cup state in this regard: “If the UEFA administration (…) is of the opinion that a venue is unsuitable for staging a match for any reason, UEFA may consult with the relevant association and club and ask them to find an alternative stadium to propose something that meets UEFA’s requirements.” If in doubt, UEFA could even choose a stadium.

Olympique Marseille fans at the first leg in Amsterdam.

Olympique Marseille fans at the first leg in Amsterdam. (IMAGO / Richard Wareham / IMAGO / Richard Wareham)

FSE: “Authorities must protect fans’ fundamental rights”

But that doesn’t happen. As a result, Ajax fans will be left out if no one successfully challenges the decision in court. In the first leg, Marseille’s fans were allowed to go to the game in Amsterdam. “We have to state that in some countries this approach seems to have become the norm for all games that are classified as potentially challenging. Some countries seem to be rather unsuitable for hosting large games,” criticizes FSE’s Endemann. “We would like to remind the French authorities of their duty to protect fans’ fundamental rights, including freedom of travel and movement.”