A long shot? Contemplations on irreparable pasts, present-day solidarity, and football supporters

Published in  
April 8, 2024
In this article I consider how football supporters clubs could be the place to start thinking about how to address tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the transatlantic slavery past in the Netherlands. I see ‘tension’ as a feeling of anxiousness that makes it impossible to relax, and that can potentially be harmful.

Conflict of interest: The author declares no conflict of interest. During the time the article was submitted the author was part of the editorial team. The journal uses a double-blind peer review process.

How to cite: Jaffe-Schagen, Judy. ‘A long shot? Contemplations on irreparable pasts, present-day solidarity, and football supporters’. Culture Caleidoscoop 1 (2024). DOI 10.57031/culcal.v1i1.16768

Let’s use the intrinsic strength of sports to restore after wars some form of humanity and dignity. But let us today use this same strength primarily to commemorate.1 - Anneke van Zanen-Nieberg, president NOC*NSF at the Dutch National sport commemoration ceremony, in Amsterdam, 4 May 2022

To start

Let me begin this article by briefly presenting my line of thought, before I elaborate on each step separately. My argument starts with the idea that tension between commemorators of the Shoah2 and commemorators of the slavery past3 arises from feelings of inequality in the struggle for a place in the Dutch4 memorial land-scape. I believe these feelings of inequality arise from inadequate recognition by Dutch society and the Dutch government of traumas related to irreparable pasts. At the same time, this struggle takes place in a society where anti-Black racism and antisemitism exist, and where ignorance about different repertoires of historical knowledge prevails.5

Figure 1 Visual outline of predicament of commemoration practices. By J. Jaffe-Schagen, 2023

The tension6 caused by these feelings shapes commemoration practices, with the result that the practices themselves become a further source of tension. Acknowledgement of, and knowledge about, these pasts is a significant societal issue. How to commemorate – where, when, and by whom – is directly related to notions of belonging.7 A possible way to decrease tension in today’s commemoration practices is to ‘bring in the histories’ of what and who are, or should be, commemorated. Educating yourself about your own past, as well as that of others, is a step towards acknowledging and respecting the significance of those irreparable histories and their connected heritage.8 I believe a requisite for bringing in history is the existence of a form of social solidarity that contains the potential to become political solidarity.9 Following philosopher Sally J. Scholz, whose work on solidarity seeks to understand the moral and political relations that accompany movements for social change, social solidarity ‘brings members of a community together based on their mutual recognition of interdependence, while political solidarity brings individuals and/or groups together around a common demand for social change’.10 Thus, to wrap up my line of thought, I argue that a specific location is needed to bring in history regarding the Shoah and the slavery past. This location should be detached from locations where commemoration practices take place; it should be a shared location where social solidarity is already a given and where the people involved are connected to one of these two histories. I believe a football supporters club might be a fitting location.

Precarious tension

Before I start a more in-depth contemplation on the possible role of football supporters in addressing tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past, I would like to mention that this thought is a product of the research project Precarious Tension,11 which maps linguistic and artistic expressions and rituals in commemoration practices, based on case studies in the Netherlands.12 An example of this tension can be found in the way histories of the Shoah and the slavery past are coming into confrontation as part of multidirectional memory processes. I quote here the following:

The Holocaust is but a cover-up for stupid sheep / the treatment in the concentration camps is just a laughing stock compared by our slave trade. / To gas people, that is sad too / But just for fun you should delve into torture techniques.13

These words are part of a rap lyrics from 2012 by Darryl Danchelo Osenga. In September 2020 Haarlem appointed Osenga as city poet. Two days later the appointment was revoked because, among other things, of this text.14

The term ‘multidirectional memory’ was coined by Rothberg as a way of conceptualising what happens when different histories of extreme violence confront each other in the public sphere. Rothberg suggests that

memory works productively through negotiation, cross-referencing, and borrowing; the result of memory conflict is not less memory, but more – even of subordinated memory traditions. Thus, collective memories of seemingly distinct histories are not easily separable from each other but emerge dialogically.15

In Precarious Tension, interviews are conducted to determine how tension that is part of multidirectional processes is perceived by the parties involved. A focus of the project is the role that heritage professionals play and could play in addressing this tension and how museums play a role in commemoration practices. The project itself is part of the research programme Bringing in History, conducted by the Cultural Heritage Research group of the Reinwardt Academy, University of the Arts, Amsterdam.16 For heritage professionals, not only is it important to be aware of different kinds of knowledge and different ways of knowing but also to acknowledge the consequences of attaching weight to one particular type of knowledge. It makes a difference whether professionals choose to work on the basis of primarily institutionalised knowledge or, alternatively, consciously confront this knowledge with noninstitutionalised, experience-based knowledge.17 This certainly applies to knowledge on commemoration practices concerning the Shoah and the slavery past. The phrase ‘ways of knowing’ should remind us that any knowledge is inevitably situated in a particular place and moment – that it is inhabited by individual knowers and that it is always changing and emergent.18 Moreover, the circumstances in which different kinds of knowledge are being allowed to be produced and emerge are political. Being aware of the existence of different kinds of knowledge is essential for present-day solidarity to be practised.

Football makes history

I started thinking about football supporters and the solidarity between them when I was asked to talk about my research at the workshop Making Football Heritage for Learning, organised by the platform Football Makes History.19 This platform, born out of an initiative by EuroClio, the European Association of History Educators, stimulates knowledge creation and circulation. The platform champions and reflects upon the societal and educational value of the history and heritage of football.20 As a historian I have an interest in the overall aim of the Football Makes History platform, which is that football and football museums contribute to better understanding and provide knowledge about the past. As a heritage professional trying to find common ground to start addressing tension in commemoration practices, I am interested in the solidarity that exists between football supporters. An example of this kind of solidarity can be seen in the response of the Eintracht Frankfurt club fans in the Eintracht stadium to the terrorist attack in Hanau on 19 February 2020: they chanted ‘Nazis out’ after the minute of silence to honour the victims. At the Eintracht Frankfurt Museum, which is a partner in the Football Makes History platform, the team of historians and museum educators have developed educational resources regarding the Second World War and have looked at possible ways to commemorate the past.21

I believe that, by virtue of the solidarity that already exists between them, football supporters could be a group where it could be possible to start carefully addressing tension regarding commemoration practices.

Language plays an important part in the heritage field. Particularly in the way that emotionally and historically loaded language is used during and around commemoration practices, in how histories are collected and presented, and in how the heritage practices connected to these pasts are performed and described. It is in this regard that I would like to discuss language, particularly what I mean when I talk about ‘solidarity’.

Questions and chants

I am, of course, aware that even though solidarity exists between supporters of the same club, the situation is completely different between supporters of rival clubs. This rivalry is often expressed by racist and antisemitic chants in stadiums. It is relevant to briefly address this as a factor that should be taken into account when discussing commemoration practices.

‘Hate and (online) hate speech is often part of acting rites and rituals between rivalling football fan groups’.22 The rivalry-related aspect of football fandom has increasingly attracted attention. It is often underpinned by social, historical, and cultural factors.23

In the Netherlands, professional men’s football is regularly subjected to antisemitic behaviour. Supporters chant ‘Hamas! Hamas! All Jews to the gas’24 and use ‘Jew’ as an insult or slur. This kind of behaviour is particularly apparent in connection with the Amsterdam-based club Ajax. Ajax is often cast as a ‘Jewish’ club and as such fans of rival teams such as FC Utrecht, Feyenoord and ADO Den Haag make antisemitic references towards Ajax to express their rivalry with the club.25

The Anne Frank House, one of the partners in the Football Makes History platform, has started a campaign to ban antisemitic chants from stadiums.26 Global historian Gijsbert Oonk uses sport as a mirror to look at major migration and identity issues. He states that ‘supporters themselves dismiss criticism, saying: “Of course it’s not about Jews, it’s about that club in Amsterdam”’.27 Even though, people under a stadium-ban are offered a programme that links the history of the Second World War, the Shoah, and the history of the club, the KNVB league and the individual clubs are now also saying: ‘Punishment alone doesn’t help, we have to create more awareness’.28 If the level of awareness directly correlated with the number of punishments handed out, it would be clear that there is still a long way to go. For example, on 6 May 2023, Dutch police arrested 154 football fans over antisemitic chants.29 Should there be a response to these expressions? And if so, who should respond and how? Is a feeling of solidarity enough to be entitled to respond in the name of someone else? An institute that reacted to the chants was the Center for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) in The Hague. They emphasised the timing of the incident, 48 hours after Remembrance Day, and expressed that there was an apparent lack of realisation by the supporters of the seriousness of yelling these chants in general and especially so soon after the fourth of May, the day marking the deportation and murder of more than 100,000 fellow citizens during the Shoah.30

In a recent article, Aline Pennewaard, the information officer at CIDI, emphasises the importance of investing

in education as a key mechanism for transmitting knowledge regarding the fight against antisemitism, anti-Black racism and all forms of hatred. We must expand the compulsory history curriculum so that all students are reached and informed on these critical issues. Because, as we keep repeating, antisemitism is not only a problem for Jews, but for our entire society. And as we saw in the Holocaust, it will take our entire society to stand against these evils.31


I started my talk for history teachers at the Making Football Heritage for Learning with a quotation from the book by historian David Wertheim, Waar gaat het over als het over Joden gaat? (What is it about when it is about Jews?):

My brother looked around him. ‘I think they saw us’, he whispered in my ear. We were sitting in the second ring of what at that time was called the Amsterdam Arena. Ajax was playing an unimportant match in preparation for the league, still the stadium was packed. As a football rookie, I was entirely untrained in being able to understand the speaking choirs, but from his nodding I understood that he meant the noise that surrounded us: ‘Jews! Jews’.[...] The fact that the word Jew was used as a kind of honorary title, felt not as a compliment or a form of appreciation. But because they really sang Jews, it mostly felt alienating.32

I experienced something similar when I went with my daughters to watch Ajax play at the same stadium. Not in the sense that I thought that ‘they’ had seen me when I heard ‘Jews, Jews’ being chanted but as a feeling of alienation wondering what does this mean? Should I do something? Do I feel okay to ‘just’ keep being here, in this stadium? And should my response depend on whether I am Jewish? Who is entitled to ask questions? And what answers do I give my daughters? These kinds of questions could or should also be asked while thinking about heritage: who decides what heritage is? Who it belongs to, and who is ‘allowed’ and in a position to ask questions and give answers when it comes to heritage? These questions and answers are part of the tension in heritage practices, and thus in commemoration practices as I expand upon in the following paragraph.33

I interviewed a heritage professional who is involved with commemoration practices regarding the abolition of slavery. This person prefers to remain anonymous.

When I asked the heritage professional about the relationship between commemoration practices of the Shoah and those of the slavery past, the answer was:

You ask a question that should be asked, a topic that should be placed on the table, a topic of which I am not sure that the time is right to be addressed. I am someone who often is ahead of the troops, but there is a complexity in the society in which we live. [...] Here in the Netherlands people are anxious regarding their job security, for what it means, for what the consequences might be when you ask questions.34

This statement, and the wish to stay anonymous, show that present-day antisemitism and anti-Black racism, horrific societal issues themselves, also complicate addressing the tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past.

Positionality matters, and intersectionality is an important element of it. I might, unconsciously or not, use that part of me which deals with trauma to connect with people who deal with traumas related to other histories. Moreover, because of who I am, I imagine that I am part of the societal issue I am addressing here. That I am a second-generation survivor of the Shoah affects my experience-based knowledge repertoires and thus the way I ask questions, the kind of questions (I feel) I can and cannot ask and the kinds of answers I receive.35

Having said this, I would like to ask another question: what if some of you, the readers, were to start chanting the words ‘Jews, Jews’, at your work, in your home, wherever you are when you read this, or even just out of the blue? What would you mean by that? Or would something like that never happen? Because, after all, what happens in the stadiums takes place at specific locations and at specific times.

On the other hand, time- and place-bound contexts – like when a football club’s supporters gather, where feelings of solidarity already exist – might serve as starting points to address these tensions. I therefore shift from the focus on expressions of anti-Black racism and antisemitism between supporters of different football clubs to the solidarity of supporters of the same club.


To further explore my line of thought, it is useful to discuss in more detail what is meant by tension, or rather what I learned to understand as tension in this regard. Then I will focus on the notion of solidarity, followed by solidarity and football. From there, I will connect history, heritage, solidarity, and tension. I consider the presence of tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past a consequence of what Modest and De Koning describe as ‘anxious politics’:

a particular moment in Europe that is one of an anxious politics that testifies to a struggle with how to deal with the consequences of earlier colonial histories in contemporary society. Anxious politics is characterized by heightened anxieties about the fate of the different nation-states that constitute Europe, and based on a projection of the ills currently imagined to face Europe [...] on to specific subjects, often racialized Others.36

Modest and De Koning suggest that ‘bringing back the imperial histories and histories of labor migration is crucial to understand the present moment’. They suggest that,

employing a postcolonial lens helps situate the affectively charged narratives about the nation that form the basis of today’s anxious politics. [...] Current tensions and anxieties regarding the nation are understood in a culturalized frame, where assumed cultural difference, which is often also read as ‘backwardness’, is seen to clash with European values or the Enlightenment project. Such framings of the nation are, moreover, strongly racialized, with legitimate European nationals imagined as white and others, with less legitimacy, as nonwhite or black. [...] Europe’s nations, with their provisions of housing, jobs, and even heritage, come to be seen as owned by their white citizens.37

In this moment of anxious politics, tensions between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past are present. Commemoration practices, eminently part of heritage, come to be seen as owned by white citizens. This creates discernible tension in the way the practices are performed. This tension is inseparable from notions of citizenship. The Dutch government’s policy and attitude towards citizens, their histories, and the significance of their heritages is reflected in speeches during commemorations and in decisions concerning apologies for the role played by the government during the Second World War and the colonial era and about restitutions of looted art.38 These policies and associated decisions, which can be seen as part of anxious politics, seem to have a polarising effect that causes some tension. During the aforementioned interview, the heritage professional answered my question about this kind of tension felt by commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past:

It isn’t envy or anger towards the Jewish community. [...] It is an indictmentof the system in which we are. [...] Why do we still apply double standards? What does that mean? Are we still not worthy?39

Tension can also arise at schools, when commemorations of the Shoah and of the slavery past are discussed. This is because the Shoah is often connected to the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the emotions and knowledge repertoires that play a part in that topic. The aforementioned chant, ‘Hamas, Hamas all the Jews to the gas’ indicates that, as Eveline Gans mentions, ‘Israel became a second marker of postwar antisemitism’.40 Furthermore, when the education curriculum is being discussed, tension and the feeling of being ‘less worthy’ are present. The latter sentiment is reflected in the speech that Denise Jannah gave on 1 July 2020 during the Keti Koti commemoration at the Central Museum, Utrecht:

‘Because it should never happen again’ is what we hear during commemorations throughout the years, and rightfully so. In my opinion, no distinction should be made there between different painful experiences, traumas and sorrows from our past. OUR past [...]. Unfortunately, our Dutch history books are not sufficiently up to date. [...] Granted, some class hours are dedicated to slavery. Hastily, due to lack of time, logical. [...] After all there is so much more that should be covered. Like the Second World War.41

I purposely use the word ‘sentiment’ in the sentence preceding the quote, as it is not clear whether what Jannah states is indeed the case. The Historisch Nieuwsblad, an online magazine on history, in 2020 conducted research on curricula in schools and concluded that twice the amount of space is given for material on the slavery past compared to the Shoah.42 I don’t think it is about the actual number of pages that cover which histories – rather, it is more about the kind of historical knowledge referred to and in whose words these histories are being told. The way we need to reconsider the wording used in schoolbooks and in the classrooms is to look at tension that is connected to the commemoration of these histories through a decolonial lens while respecting the extant traumas.

Football Makes History develops activities for classrooms. For example, in designing a code of conduct, ‘students should try to make use of history (i.e., of a shared past between supporters of different teams) to argue for friendship among both ends (the “singing” and the “receiving”) of racist chants’.43 To be able to look through a decolonial lens, you have to realise that you have to first adjust your ‘usual’ view. An example of such a switch can be seen in the words of Prime Minister Rutte. On 19 December 2022, at the National Archives in The Hague, he apologised for the past actions of the Dutch state, saying, among other things:

For a long time, I thought that the Netherlands’ role in slavery was a thing of the past, something we had put behind us. But I was wrong. Centuries of oppression and exploitation still have an effect to this very day. In racist stereotypes. In discriminatory patterns of exclusion. In social inequality. And to break those patterns, we also have to face up to the past, openly and honestly.44

Looking through a decolonial lens doesn’t make tension disappear – rather, it makes it more apparent. My goal as well is not to find ways for heritage professionals to lessen tensions but to address them and to understand what these tensions represent. Setting out to lessen tensions might give the impression that tension is something that is not wanted. ‘Remember to be cool and play nice!’ These words were placed at the top of the chat bar that was part of a webinar for teachers on how to teach about slavery and its present-day effects.45 Playing nice, however, equates to allowing inequality, anti-Black racism, and antisemitism. This has a perilous effect on the way commemoration practices are being, or could be, performed and how knowledge repertoires of irreparable histories are researched and taught. There is productive potential in conflict and ‘negative’ emotions. So many of the feelings deemed impolite can contribute great value to progressing society.46 At the same time having to experience and express tension all the time might not only hurt the individual but society as a whole. To address and lessen hurtful tension without tone policing, the sources of the tension have to be recognised and acknowledged and not just looked at with empathy. I will further discuss empathy versus solidarity and adjacency in the section on solidarity.

For now, I want to ask where and when can tension be addressed – other than at these specific times at these specific locations using the specific language and the specific rituals that are used during commemorations practices. One option is museums. I assume that, in this respect, the Netherlands does not significantly differ from the United States, where museums are the place where people learn their history most.47 Museums could play a role in researching and presenting historical knowledge repertoires and in linking the repertoires with today’s societal challenges and with the heritage of these histories. Although it should be mentioned that some museums perpetuate existing injustices.48 What should also be noted is that museums are increasingly taking an active role in commemoration practices and might – in the way that they research and exhibit heritage connected to irreparable pasts – be part of the tension. Furthermore, museums and their audiences might not have enough of a common denominator for the kind of solidarity that exists between football supporters and that, I believe, is a necessary condition to start addressing tension. Museums, therefore, might in the end not be an option.


Amann and Doidge discuss solidarity between football supporters with regard to climate change. Even though this discussion focuses on another societal issue, the role the supporters can play in addressing it might not be that different. They describe supporters as,

fans [who] demonstrate characteristics that make the potential for instigating collective action more likely: the bonds they share through uniting so regularly in such an emotionally charged way; the competitiveness that is inherent to being a fan; the sheer numbers involved and the accessible nature of football mean that the impact of even small changes done collectively is impressive and consequently empowering. [...] Football fans are a pertinent example of regular collective behaviour in contemporary society that contributes to a strong sense of belonging, which can promote activism.49

This quality, the potential to initiate further action while practising solidarity, is what differentiates solidarity from feeling empathy: there is a separation between feeling empathy and response behaviours.50 Solidarity could be considered a response behaviour. It might, however, not be the right one when it comes to addressing tension in commemoration practices.

I argue that it is necessary to look at the notion of solidarity through a decolonial lens. Only then could solidarity be an effective starting point to address tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past. This results in it not being solidarity that we are talking about but adjacency. As Tina Campt suggests,

Unlike empathy and solidarity, adjacency is about the spatial positioning of Black and non-Black people that doesn’t entail putting oneself in place of another or sharing another’s pain but demands the affective labour of relating across difference – it shifts the optics of ‘looking at’ to an intentional practice of looking with and alongside.51

Adjacency thus denotes a reparative practice that requires accountability, doing the work of ‘positioning oneself in relation to another in ways that revalue and redress complex histories of dispossession’. Such affective labour requires that we keep searching – constantly and consistently – for language and concepts that reflect our different positionalities and complicities.52

Adjacency might be a necessary step to go from social solidarity to the stage of decolonised political solidarity. I believe that the existing social solidarity between football supporters, unlike empathy, is sufficient, as a starting point, to address tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past.

The interviewed heritage professional elaborates on why she also sees empathy as insufficient, maybe even not wanted, and an expression of inequality of power, while referring to a speech from 2022:

My speech could have been longer, but I only had four minutes. So, I had to choose. But some other time, I will mention the feeling of being worthy, as a human being, as a community, of empathy. And showing empathy is not a kind of aid, cause people always have this sentiment of ‘we will help you’, because this causes the community to be in the position of acceptance, like we are piteous, we need help. No, something has been taken from us. Something has taken from our ancestors, and this continues to be taken from us till today. And why is this the case?53

Once more: The past and history, heritage and commemoration, tensionand solidarity

The heritage professional’s question is one of many that have come up in this article. But an article is not the real world, and Dutch society in general is not a place where everyone can safely ask questions and where tension around commemoration practices can comfortably be addressed. A convivial society where all citizens equally feel that they and their pasts belong has yet to be established.

Even though it might be a long shot, with this article I consider whether the solidarity that exists between a football club’s supporters might be strong enough to be instrumental for addressing tension between commemorators of the Shoah and commemorators of the slavery past, and in doing so make a first step towards a convivial society.

Social relationships are vital when advocating for collective action. Although not all fans engage (or want to engage) politically,54 football fans have acted politically for several decades. Acting as a new social movement, fans have mobilised around a number of issues affecting the game, including governance, commercialism, and antidiscrimination. It might not be totally unlikely that they can mobilise around a societal issue that is not directly linked to football.55 To talk about the possibility of discussing this idea with supporters, I contacted Fabian Nagtzaam, the chair of the supporters organisation of Ajax. Not only is Ajax supposedly a ‘Jewish’ club,56 Ajax has strong ties with the former Dutch colony Suriname. ‘Ajax and Suriname are thick as thieves’ as Het Parool, the Amsterdam-based daily newspaper describes it.57 In addition, Curaçao, another former Dutch colony, has sponsored Ajax for many years.58

Nagtzaam’s answer shows that my question was unclear or that, when talking about tension, it is the tension between clubs that immediately comes to mind.

From your email it is not clear why you would like to discuss with us / supporters, tension that would exist between commemorations of the Shoah and the slavery past. As far as I am concerned, and certainly as far as our union is concerned, tensions like that are far removed from us. Everyone deserves a commemoration regarding an event from the past, even if it just to makes sure that such horrible events will never be forgotten and to learn from them. As a supporters’ union we are here for all ‘Ajacieden’, no matter colour, ancestry, race, age, or sexual preference. As long as you are for Ajax. Everyone plays a part. We resent discrimination, racism, and violence. In the stands, during events, and in actions, this attitude for us is all important. So according to us, no tension whatsoever.59

Although a meeting with the supporters has yet to take place, his answer clearly expressed solidarity between the supporters.

One last question for now: where would supporters meet to address tension? Most conversations take place at tables. Many tables are now part of commemoration practices, like the Keti Koti Table, developed in 2010 by Mercedes Zandwijken and Machiel Keestra to facilitate dialogue and increase collective awareness of the legacy of the slavery and colonial past of the Netherlands. There are already connections between football and Keti Koti; for example, on 2 July 2023, a day after the Keti Koti commemoration practices, the Keti Koti Junior Cup will take place at the football club ESA in Rijkerswoerd, a neighbourhood in Arnhem, the Netherlands. This day, according to the club’s website, ‘will be dedicated to Keti Koti, and we will celebrate the abolition of slavery and will want to act against racism on the field’.60

An idea for where football supporters could have a seat to address tension could be the Keti Koti Table. The Keti Koti Table’s general objective is to raise awareness of the internal and social conflicts and blind spots that arise from the historical and social backgrounds of the Dutch slavery and colonial past and to gain new insights that lead to a society free from discrimination and racism.61 This table was placed at the Jewish Museum during the exhibition Are Jews White? It was recently added to the collection of the Amsterdam Museum. What if this tangible object, collected for its intangible aspects, were placed in the Ajax Museum and supporters were invited to participate? However, football museums, partners in the Football Makes History project, are not neutral places and have their own knowledge repertoires and use their own language. Furthermore, the Keti Koti Table, starting already from the viewpoint of the slavery past, might also not be suited to discuss the tension between commemorators of that past and commemorators of the Shoah.

Figure 2 Vlugt, Harald, "Centre Spot", concrete, 2002, Esplanade de Meer near no. 68, Amsterdam. Photo: Jo Haen.

So, why not place a round table near what was once the centre spot in De Meer in Amsterdam, on the site of the old Ajax stadium?62 This is a spot that is connected to football, has meaning for the supporters, and might be a neutral enough location for every supporter to feel welcome to sit down and to know that they belong at this table. Now, the only thing left to do is to find the right time.


1  A. Zanen-Nieberg, ‘Sportherdenking’, 4 May 2022, https://nocnsf.nl/media/5581/speech-anneke-van-zanen-nieberg-sportherdneking-2022.pdf. My translation.

2  In this article the terms ‘Shoah’ and ‘Holocaust’ are used interchangeably. See: Judy Jaffe-Schagen, ‘Adding the Shoah into the story’, Lecture given at summer course Decolonizing Europe, History, memory, redress. VU University, Amsterdam, 18 July 2017.

3  When I refer in this article to slavery, I refer primarily to the transatlantic slave trade and the enslavement in the Americas of Black people from Africa.

4  Based on Judy Jaffe-Schagen, ‘A stirring match. Commemoration practices and football supporters’, Lecture given at the workshop Football Makes History: Schools and Football Club Museums Unlocking Local Heritage Education. Erasmus +, Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam, 13 January 2023.

5  For different kinds of historical knowledge, see: Michael Haldrup and Jørgen Ole Bœrenholdt,‘Heritage as performance’, in The Palgrave handbook of contemporary heritage research, ed. Emma Waterton and Steve Watson, 52–68 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

6  Longman dictionary of contemporary English, 6th ed. (1891), s.v. ‘tension’.

7  ‘Project precaire spanning. De rol van de erfgoedprofessional bij het herkennen en wegnemen van spanning binnen de herdenkingscontext van de Shoah en van het slavernijverleden’, Regioorgaan Sia projectenbank, 1 September 2021, https://www.sia-projecten.nl/project/precaire-spanning-de-rol-van-de-erfgoedprofessional-bij-het-herkennen-en-wegnemen-van-spanning-binnen-de-herdenkingscon/.

8  See also: H. Dibbits, ‘Bringing in history’, Reinwardt Academy, December 2019, https://www.reinwardt.ahk.nl/media/rwa/pics/Lectoraat/HD20220509-Bringing-in-History-English-text-dec-2019_RedAP-2.pdf/.

9  Sally J. Scholz, ‘Seeking solidarity’, Philosophy Compass 10, no. 10 (2015): 732.

10  Scholz, ‘Seeking solidarity’, 732.

11  This research is cofinanced by Regieorgaan SIA, part of the Dutch Research Council.

12  See also: ‘Project precaire spanning’.

13  I. de Bruijn, ‘Nieuwe stadsdichter Haarlem bagatelliseert Holocaust’, Haarlem105, 24 September 2020, https://haarlem105.nl/nieuwe-stadsdichter-haarlem-bagatelliseert-holocaust/

14  For the whole text, see: C. Peppelenbos, ‘Nieuwe stadsdichter van Haarlem Darryl Danchelo Osenga zong mensen vergassen snap ik dat is ook zielig’, Tzum literair weblog, 23 September 2020, https://www.tzum.info/2020/09/nieuws-nieuwe-stadsdichter-van-haarlem-darryl-danchelo-osenga-zong-mensen-vergassen-snap-ik-dat-is-ook-zielig/.

15  Rothberg 2009, 11, 18.

16  See also: Dibbits, ‘Bringing in history’.

17  See also: Mark Harris, ed., Ways of knowing: New approaches in the anthropology of knowledge and learning, vol. 18 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007).

18  Harris, ed., Ways of knowing, 4.

19  Jaffe-Schagen, ‘A stirring match’.

20  ‘Football makes history’.

21  FMH editorial, ‘Eintracht Frankfurt’s return to Theresienstadt’, Football makes history, 24 February 2020, https://footballmakeshistory.eu/eintracht-frankfurts-return-to-theresienstadt.

22  Jasmin Seijbel, Jacco van Sterkenburg, and Gijsbert Oonk. ‘Expressing rivalry online: Antisemitic rhetoric among Dutch football supporters on Twitter’, Soccer & Society 23, no. 8 (2022): 834.

23  Adam Benkwitz and Gyozo Molnar, ‘Interpreting and exploring football fan rivalries: An overview’, Soccer & Society 13, no. 4 (2012): 479.

24  A variation of this is: ‘Hamas, Hamas, all Jews should be gassed’. See also: Joram Verhoeven and Willem Wagenaar, ‘Appealing to a common identity: The case of antisemitism in Dutch football’, Football and Discrimination, 141–151 (Routledge: 2021).

25  Seijbel, Van Sterkenburg, and Oonk, ‘Expressing rivalry online’, 834.

26  See also: FMH editorial, ‘The EU-funded project “Changing the Chants” released a documentary exploring a border-crossing cooperation to tackle antisemitism in football’, Football makes history, 20 May 2021, https://footballmakeshistory.eu/football-vs-antisemitism/.

27  G. Oonk, ‘On racism in football: “Knowing the history is a necessary condition to make a change”’, EUR, 27 July 2020, https://www.eur.nl/en/news/racism-football-knowing-history-necessary-condition-make-change/.

28  G. Oonk, ‘On racism in football: “Knowing the history is a necessary condition to make a change”’, EUR, 27 July 2020, https://www.eur.nl/en/news/racism-football-knowing-history-necessary-condition-make-change/.

29  Claire Moses, ‘Dutch police arrest 154 soccer fans over antisemitic chants’, New York Times, 7 May 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/07/world/europe/netherlands-ajax-antisemitism.html?smid=url-share.

30  CIDI, ‘Voetbalsupporters aangehouden vanwege zingen antisemitische liederen’, CIDI, 8 May 2023, https://www.cidi.nl/voetbalsupporters-aangehouden-vanwege-zingen-antisemitische-liederen/.

31  Alice Pennewaard, ‘Education is key to fight Jew-hatred in the Netherlands’, Jerusalem Post, 3 April 2023, https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-736305.

32  D. Wertheim, Waar gaat het over als het over Joden gaat? (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2022).

33  Jaffe-Schagen, ‘A stirring match’.

34  Heritage professional, Teams conversation with author, August 3, 2022.

35  Jessica Soedirgo and Aarie Glas, ‘Toward active reflexivity: Positionality and practice in the production of knowledge’, PS: Political Science & Politics 53, no. 3 (2020): 527–531.

36  Wayne Modest and Anouk de Koning, ‘Anxious politics in the European city: An introduction’, Patterns of Prejudice 50, no. 2 (2016): 98.

37  Anouk de Koning and Wayne Modest, ‘Anxious politics in postcolonial Europe’ (2017).

38  Judy Jaffe-Schagen, ‘Voorzet (A pass)’ (introductory talk as part of the Heritage Arena event at Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam, 10 May 2023).

39  Heritage professional, Teams conversation with author, August 3, 2022.

40  See also: Evelien Gans and Remco Ensel, eds., The Holocaust, Israel and ‘the Jew’: Histories of antisemitism in postwar Dutch society (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016).

41  Denise Jannah, ‘Een gedeeld slavernijverleden, betekent een gedeelde erfenis’. NieuwWij, 1 July 2020, https://www.nieuwwij.nl/opinie/211853/.

42  Historiek redactie, ‘Slavernij en kolonialisme prominent in schoolboeken’, Historiek, 29 February 2020, https://historiek.net/slavernij-en-kolonialisme-prominent-in-schoolboeken/132764/.

43  For worksheets see: L. Bunt, ‘Chants in Football’, Historiana, https://historiana.eu/learning-activity/chants-football-fan-other.

44  M. Rutte, ‘About the role of the Netherlands in the history of slavery’ (speech delivered in The Hague, 19 December 2022), https://www.government.nl/documents/speeches/2022/12/19/speech-by-prime-minister-mark-rutte-about-the-role-of-the-netherlands-in-the-history-of-slavery.

45  V. Smeulders, ‘Teaching slavery webinar’, Ninsee and Tropenmuseum, 9 April 2021.

46  Brooks Hosfeld, Teams meeting with Research group, Reinwardt Academy, April 8, 2021.

47  Alumni & Friends – Brown University, ‘Empowering change with Brown professors Anthony Bogues and Tricia Rose’, video. 1:25:26, 27 January 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiclhhpM4tQ.

48  Paul Ariese, personal communication with author, May 30, 2023.

49  Jennifer Amann and Mark Doidge, ‘“I hadn’t realised that change is not a difficult thing”: Mobilising football fans on climate change’, Sociology (2023): 00380385221142211.

50  B. M. Cuff et al., ‘Empathy: A review of the concept’, Emotion review 8, no. 2 (2016): 150, doi:10.1177/1754073914558466.

51  Tina Campt, ‘Adjacency: Luke Willis Thompson’s Poethics of Care’. Flash art: The leading European art magazine 52, no. 327 (2019): 42.

52  Tina Campt, ‘Political concepts: Tina Campt – Adjacency’, Brown University, video, 24 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uFtRdVsEJI.

53  Heritage professional, Teams conversation with author, August 3, 2022.

54  Mark Doidge, Football Italia: Italian football in an age of globalization (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 11.

55  Amann and Doidge, ‘I hadn’t realized’.

56  Seijbel, Van Sterkenburg, and Oonk, ‘Expressing rivalry online’, 834.

57  S. Porskamp, ‘Ajax en Suriname’, Het Parool, 1 August 2014, https://www.parool.nl/nieuws/ajax-en-suriname-twee-handen-op-een-buik~b6346209/.

58  Ajax.nl, ‘Curacao tourist board new partner Ajax’, 16 January 2020, https://english.ajax.nl/archive/curacao-tourist-board-new-partner-ajax/.

59  Nagtzaam, F. E-mail correspondence with author April 13, 2023. My translation.

60  ‘Keti Koti junior cup’, Wijkplatform Rijkerwoerd, 11 May 2023, https://www.rijkerswoerd.net/werkgroepen/activiteiten/keti-koti-junior-cup.

61  Stichting Keti Koti Tafel, ‘About’, Welkom bij de Keti Koti tafel, https://www.ketikotitafel.nl/keti-koti-table (accessed 31 January 2023).

62  Photo: Jo Haen, https://www.vriendenvanwatergraafsmeer.nl/de-betonnen-middenstip-op-de-resten-van-het-oude-stadion/. Accessed: 20 February 2024


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