Friday, March 23, 2012

23 March 1997 - The Battle Of Beverwijk

On 23 March 1998, a clash between supporter groups of Feyenoord and Ajax turned fatal, as Carlo Picornie was beaten to death.

Dutch hooliganism dates back to the 1960s, with a particularly heated rivalry developing between the firms of Feyenoord and Ajax, two of the country's most successful clubs. In 1997, the two firms scheduled a confrontation for February, but it failed to materialize as the Ajax group retreated when faced with the larger, heavily armed Feyenoord group.

They coordinated another meeting for 23 March, despite the fact that the two teams did not play each other that day. They faced each other in a small field outside the town of Beverwijk, about 12 miles north of Amsterdam. The fight lasted only about five minutes, but in that short span, Picornie, a 35-year old Ajax supporter, died after being stabbed and beaten with several objects. A hotel manager and father of two, Picornie had reportedly been a leader of the Ajax firm in previous years.

The escalation of violence provoked a strong reaction in the Netherlands, triggering efforts by the Dutch government to crack down on hooliganism. Video footage of the incident led to several arrests, but the authorities were unable to identify the people directly responsible for Picornie's death.

[For more on the Battle of Beverwijk, see Understanding Football Hooliganism: A Comparison of Six Western Football Clubs by Ramón Spaaij.]

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