For as terrible as their fans were during yesterday’s KNVB Cup match against AZ, Den Bosch’s management has done whatever it takes to make clear the club in no way condones the racist behavior their supporters directed at AZ striker Jozy Altidore. With officials front-and-center after the game, the club expressed embarrassment, conceded the hardcore fringe of their fanbase had become a problem, and made no excuses for the ghastly display that, for one day, gave their club an international profile.
Today Den Bosch issued an apology via the club’s web site, a declaration that made clear the extent to which the supporters have scarred their club. Portraying the offending fans as “hooligans,” Den Bosch described themselves as “upset and disappointed” at behavior which “ruined the week-long preparation by the club, supporters and volunteers”. While expressing their regret to Altidore, the club promised to pursue, capture, and punish those responsible for the incident”
Den Bosch director Peter Bijvelds, who had addressed the crowd at half-time with an appeal for the abuse to stop, said: “FC Den Bosch will, aided by all those people who do good for their club, do everything in their power in the coming period to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“They do not belong in De Vliert (the Den Bosch stadium) and will have the most severe sanctions imposed on them.”
This may seem like an obligatory response, but as we’ve seen elsewhere, other fan groups have been able to reach points where they can’t be controlled. Those groups end up permanently tarnishing a club’s image, but with the vigilant response Bijvelds has led at Den Bosch, his club will be defined by their actions as opposed to stupidity of their supporters.