Dec. 21, 2011: Keeper Esteban Alvarado, right, defends himself against an attacker who rushed from the stands as referee Bas Nijhuis, left, runs towards them during a cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Dec. 21, 2011: Keeper Esteban Alvarado, right, kicks an attacker who rushed from the stands as referee Bas Nijhuis, left, runs towards them during a cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
AMSTERDAM – A Dutch soccer team has issued an apology following a "terrible incident" involving a fan who ran onto the field and tried to attack a goalkeeper during a match on Wednesday.
"This was a terrible incident and we deeply regret it and offer our sincere apologies," Ajax director Jeroen Slop told the club's official website, according to Sky Sports. "The supporter has been handed over to the police. It was a 19-year-old man who was probably under the influence of alcohol. He said he hated the AZ goalkeeper and had therefore attacked him."
The Dutch soccer federation is now debating whether to replay the cup match between Ajax and AZ Alkmaar that was halted after a fan tried to attack Alkmaar's goalkeeper.
Esteban Alvarado, 22, deflected the attack, but was given a red card for kicking the supporter in anger immediately afterward. Alkmaar's team then left the field in protest and the game was halted in the 36th minute. Ajax was leading 1-0. The players' union has demanded that the red card be retracted.
The federation said Thursday it will decide soon whether Wednesday's match should be replayed, resumed, or have Ajax declared the winner.
The 19-year-old unidentified fan remains in police custody along with 25 others arrested in disturbances during and after the match.
Slop said the supporter had already been banned from the stadium for a year because of a previous run-in with security guards, but managed to sneak into the cup match with a ticket purchased by a friend. Ajax has changed the sanction to a lifetime ban from all Ajax matches.
Slop said AZ had accepted the apology.
In an unusual move, the country's justice minister Ivo Opstelten got involved in the debate, saying the attack was "beastly" and that "jerks and nuts don't belong on the field." He added that he thought Alkmaar coach Gertjan Verbeek was right to walk out under the circumstances.
"I have a lot of respect for how he acted," Opstelten said. "Intervene immediately, that warms my heart."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.