Ajax Amsterdam's women's team will not be honored with a public celebration in the Dutch capital on Monday despite claiming the Eredivisie title, as club officials fear the poor performance of the men's team this season will solicit a lukewarm response.
Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema had invited the triumphant women's team for a customary balcony ceremony in the city's famous Leidseplein square, but Ajax declined the offer, leading to a significant backlash.
The champions of Ajax Women were denied the public honour after protests by fan club AFCA Supportersclub because the men's team had too bad a season.
— Soccerdonna (@soccerdonna) May 26, 2023
Women's sports still has a long way to go, read this and weep..Ajax women not allowed league victory party after their own board nixed it. Reasons: fear of "not enough fans showing up" + disappointing performance of men's team. Just imagine this happening the other way around... https://t.co/N8tMHpsFzW— Danielle Rossingh (@DRossingh) May 25, 2023
This is 2023 and this is happening to the Ajax women’s team just because the men’s team had a bad season? What is this the times where women’s soccer was banned in many countries a long time ago??? This is the year 2023 you can’t honor this club with a public celebration??? What! https://t.co/eDAw7hAJXv— Lets talk sports with Phillip Newsome (@LTSWPN) May 26, 2023
The Ajax women's team secured their third league title almost three weeks ago, and club officials believe the moment to mark the achievement has passed.
"We do not support the timing or the place," a club spokesperson told the Dutch website.
Ajax are concerned any public celebrations would be muted given the poor performance of the men's side, "which would not be good for the image of women’s football."
The men's team are third in the league with one fixture to play this season, and look likely to miss out on a Champions League place for the first time since 2009.
Feyenoord have already been crowned Eredivisie champions, securing the sole Dutch spot in the Champions League group stage. Second-placed PSV Eindhoven are three points ahead of Ajax and are favorites to claim a spot in the third qualifying round of the European club competition.
"The lack of a celebratory mood around Ajax in general, which is linked to the performance of the men’s team this season, played a part in the decision," the Ajax spokesman continued.
Officials in Amsterdam's municipality are not happy with the stance.
"Unfortunately, without the cooperation of the club, the mayor and the alderman see no possibility to organize a successful ceremony this season," city officials said in a statement.
It has divided opinion in the Dutch capital, with one Ajax fanclub voicing strong opposition to the idea of honoring the women's team, though for a different reason.
"In our opinion, a public tribute in Amsterdam should only be reserved for Ajax 1 (the men's team)," supporter's club AFCASC said in a statement.
But the decision to cancel the ceremony received criticism too.
"With friends like that, you don't need enemies. Very disappointed in what should feel like 'my' club," former Ajax defender Merel Van Dongen said.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam and Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)