The Dutch football association KNVB has withdrawn the red card shown to AZ goal keeper Esteban on Wednesday evening. The KNVB’s prosecutor ruled that referee Bas Nijhuis was right to issue a red card based on the rules of the game, but he ruled that the goalkeeper's actions did not warrant suspension.
“The keeper was unexpectedly attacked; he did not see his assailant coming. The prosecutor believes that such an impulsive reaction should not be punished,” a spokesperson for the KNVB said. The decision was taken on the basis of television images and an explanation by Esteban.
Ajax and AZ have to submit statements by Tuesday 27 December 10 a.m. at the latest. The prosecutor will report his findings to the professional football board on the same day. The board will take a decision by the next day on whether the game should be continued, replayed or whether the score from the abandoned game will be accepted as the final score 1-0 for Ajax. The spokesperson was unable to say whether Esteban will be allowed to play if the game is either continued or replayed.
Alkmaar's technical director Earnest Stewart is pleased with the withdrawal of the red card, “We were prepared for all scenarios. But this is the best decision and we are pleased the KNVB took it. Otherwise we would have appealed against a suspension.”
The supporter who attacked the goalkeeper already had a stadium ban, but got hold of a ticket via a card holder. Security for the KNVB cup match is less strict than usual. Ajax’ Financial Director Jeroen Slop says it would be better to make people banned from stadiums report to the police, otherwise fans would have to turn up to matches four hours in advance to be vetted. Ajax is not considering any immediate action, except to ban the supporter and file a complaint with the police.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide
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