Monday, February 05, 2007

ajax of amsterdam fc & its jewish connections

the times' football page has a new series of articles called 'the rivals' about explosive football matches. this week they discuss ajax vs feyenoord of rotterdam. early in the article, the author cites the well-known (in the football world) chants of the rival supporters:

"“Hamas, Hamas — Jews to the gas,” the Rotterdam contingent chant at their counterparts. “We are Super Jews,” comes the reply. Stars of David bedeck the Amsterdam ArenA."

nu - is ajax a jewish club? as in all matters of dutch football, i turn immediately to my old friend david winner, and his 2000 opus 'brilliant orange'. in chapter 15, he discusses the connections between the club and jews. he explains that while for hundreds of years amsterdam was as jewish a city as new york, and there was a strong jewish influence on amsterdam football, this was all destroyed during the nazi occupation. For a book-long examination of dutch football and the nazi occupation, do read 'ajax, the dutch, the war' by simon kuper. as far as i can see, while there is no longer any tangible connection between the amsterdam jewish community and the fans of ajax, these supporters have adopted jewish symbols as a way to celebrate their team.

my favourite quote from chapter 15 of david's book:

"... when Israeli transsexual Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song 'Viva La Diva', the occasion was celebrated by Ajax fans with a song of their own: 'We are the champions! Jews win everything!'"

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