The Culture of Dutch Football

Much of what is in Kuper’s book, Ajax: The Dutch, The War, is shocking. Chapter six, Sparta: A Soccer Club in Wartime, was extremely compelling because it offered a new look at life during World War II. From what I learned in school as a child, and from stories I heard from my two grandfather who both served in the United States Military during the war, normal way of life for many people stopped during the German occupation. “People lived much as they had before, though with slightly less food” (Kuper 72). For all the good chapter six offered, chapter 14, Soccer Song of the Netherlands, did the opposite. I was shocked to learn that people casually chant ant-Semitic remarks at public soccer matches, and even the players and coaches get involved. The easy dismissal of these chants as nothing of significance further complicated my thoughts from what I had learned in other readings from this week. Why do the Dutch seem to make light out of horrible and very significant events of the past? “The Dutch rediscovery of World War II had made these [Nazi] symbols into exciting taboos” (Kupper 222). Why was the War ‘rediscoverd’? It never should have been forgotten. It was also interesting to see how a former Ajax player, Bennie Muller, relate much of the racist abuse he suffered as a player in the 1960’s to the abuse Moroccan players face today (Kupper 221). Why is nothing being done to stop this behavior? Why do people who have suffered abuse themselves become bystanders when others are being targeted?

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One thought on “The Culture of Dutch Football

  1. This stuff certainly was shocking to me, as well! What do you think of Kuper’s explanation of it? and/or his attitude towards it? He’s clearly critical of it, but is trying to understand it from a journalistic perspective? How close do you think he gets to an explanation, or to an understanding of it from those fans’ point of view? It is akin, for example, to Atlanta Braves fans doing the “tomahawk chop” at games? In what ways is it not?

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