By Jelle de Korte
The Dutch care a great deal about certain things. We love democracy, tolerance, bicycles and cheese but most of all: we love football. Not the crazy hand-egg game in the United States. I am talking about REAL football! Not soccer. Football!
If you want to understand Dutch culture to its core you have to at least appreciate the culture of football. Football doesn’t just represent a sport. It represents the city you love. Every weekend, supporters gather in either the stadium or a bar to watch their favorite team play. Tensions get real high during the game. But that happens when you play for the most important thing: honor!
Once upon a time, not that long ago, the Dutch national team used to be a glorious team. (The men, the women won last summer’s European Championship). But now that the men probably won’t even qualify for the world cup we will discuss three of the most important teams in the Netherlands in the Eredivisie.
Nickname: Utreg, Domstedelingen (Dom-citizens)
Biggest rival: Ajax
At the border of the city lies stadium Galgenwaard. Home of FC Utrecht, the pride of Utrecht. Even though the stadium is way too big (there are always a lot places left during match day), the atmosphere is great. If you want to visit a match, try to get a ticket on “Bunnikside”. That is where the most fanatic supporters are and the emotions get wild. If you really want to fit in with the supporters, make the “UUU” sign with your hand and chant along with Utreg. They will welcome you with open arms.
Stadium: Johan Cruyff Arena
Nickname: The Jews
Biggest rival: Feyenoord
Ajax is the biggest club in the Netherlands. Famous for one of the greatest football players who ever lived: Johan Cruyff. It’s also the most hated team in the Netherlands. Every club in the Netherlands feels the pressure and need to beat Ajax. Ajax knows the reason why: “We are Ajax and we are best”. Being the biggest team and the capitol’s team gives Ajax a certain cocky appearance. Ajax-supporters like to call this “Branie” or Swagger. Ajax is also one of the biggest exporters of talents in Europe. International players like Zlatan Ibrahimovitz (Manchester United) and Luis Suarez (FC Barcelona) played for Ajax.
Stadium: de Kuip
Nickname: The cockroaches
Biggest rival: Ajax
Feyenoord is known for their fanatic supporters and when they play at home the Kuip is boiling. According to Feyenoord Supporters, there is no atmosphere in any stadium like de Kuip. Feyenoord is Ajax biggest rival. Even though Ajax is confident and has won more matches, Feyenoord is the angst-gegner and will always work at a 110 percent to beat (as they call them) “The Jews”. After years of being second of third place, Feyenoord lifted the curse last year and became champions of the eredivisie for the first time since 1999. When they celebrated, they celebrated BIG! The celebration at the Coolsingel was like nothing you have ever seen before. Even if you don’t support Feyenoord, you have to admire the dedication and love for their team.
On the 8th of juli in 2017, Ajax played against the German club Werder Bremen. 20-year-old Abdelhak Nouri, one of the best young players of Ajax, fell to the ground 70 minutes into the match due to a brain malfunction. He was taken of the field with a trauma helicopter. Till this day, Nouri lies in the hospital with permanent brain damage and will never play again. Nouri’s shirt number used to be “34” because he was sure he was going to help get Ajax’ their 34th championship this year. When the first games of the season started every team in the Netherlands, including the biggest rivals of Ajax, stood up and gave a one-minute applause in the 34th minute as a tribute to the young man who could be one the greats. Ajax has vowed that there will be no player ever who can wear the number 34 on the back of his shirt. There is only one number 34: Abdelhak Nouri