Tribal Football Rivalries – Ajax Vs Feyenoord (De Klassieker)

The blood-thirsty De Klassieker derby between Dutch giants Ajax and Feyenoord dates back the 13th century, and football is utilized as the perfect platform to display their hatred for one another.

The rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam dates back to the 13th century and has culminated in one of the world’s biggest and most violent rivalries. The De Klassieker has been one of the most controversial, passionate and mouth watering fixtures in world football since their first meeting in October 1921.

Players who have made the switch from Amsterdam to Rotterdam have been treated with such disregard, that it’s a dreading move to make. Johann Cruyff and Wim Jansen knew this better than anyone when they received abuse for playing for both teams.

The derby has been described in the past as the artists of Amsterdam and the workers of Rotterdam. Traditional Rotterdammers feel that “Amsterdam dream, whereas Rotterdam work”.

Ajax have been the most successful of the two sides, winning 33 Eredivisie titles compared to Feyenoord’s tally of 14. There is a massive police presence at each De Klassieker and riots and hooliganism has spilled over into several very dark chapters.

There’s a division in each cities’ attitude to culture and lifestyle, which has further intensified the hatred between both sets of supporters. They also contributed many players that played what is known as “Total Football” during the 1974 and 1978 World Cup campaigns.

Feyenoord and Ajax share such a differentiation in opinions and a hatred enriched in history that it’s a fixture for the light hearted to avoid. The stories and event that have taken place on derby day could create an almost endless script but here is our attempt at describing and informing you of the rivalry between the two Dutch giants.


The first ever De Klassieker known as The Classic in English took place in October 1921 and ended level with both teams scoring twice. However, there was a controversial conclusion, after Feyenoord protested Ajax had a dubious goal endorsed the referee. Ajax’s initial 3-2 lead was soon demoted and both teams shared the spoils, but this was just the beginning of the biggest football rivalry in the Netherlands.

The two clubs have also been at logger heads for contending against each other on the size of their home stadium. During the 1930s and 1940s, both clubs had several stadium expansions with Feyenoord eventually increasing their capacity to 69,000 after World War II.

The rivalry went very quiet between 1947 and 1956 due to the regional league structure. Feyenoord never won their regional league during this period, which meant they were unable to play Ajax in the Champions play-off. Various friendlies were organized to ensure that supporters were entertained and treated to derby day extravaganza.

The introduction of the Dutch Eredivisie in the 1956/57 season revitalized the Der Klassieker derby. Both clubs have played each other every season since the regional leagues were abolished.

The rivalry intensified when both teams enjoyed European success during the 1970s. Ajax won 3 European Cups and 1 Intercontinental Cup, whereas Feyenoord won the European Cup, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Cup on one occasion.

Riots became a regular occurrence and the police presence grew rapidly when both teams clashed. Both clubs contributed many players to the Netherlands squad, who displayed what is known as “Total Football” during the 1974 and 1978 World Cup campaigns.

Switching sides was taken very harshly on several occasions, especially when Feyenoord legend Wim Jansen and Ajax legend Johan Cruyff made the dreaded move. Jansen ended his 15-year spell in Rotterdam to join Ajax during the 1980/81 season, and had an iceball thrown at his face during his debut against Feyenoord.

Ajax were unprepared to give Johan Cruyff a new contract due to his age. This upset Ajax supporters and infuriated Feyenoord supporters when the news emerged that he’d be joining the club. He was welcomed with several derogatory banners and was jeered by the local supporters.

In February 2016, an Ajax fan displayed an effigy of a hanged dummy of former player Kenneth Vermeer. The Dutchman fell below the pecking order at Ajax and moved to Feyenoord as a result. Violent incidents also took place during matches between the reserves, when Feyenoord player Jorge Acuna was taken to hospital after being attack by Ajax hooligan in 2004.

One of the darkest chapters in the Der Klassieker occurred in 1997 when an Ajax supporter was beaten to death and several others were left injured. The incident led to away supporters being banned from entering the stadium for both fixtures in the following season.

In April 2005, Ajax hooligans demolished the train that transported them to Rotterdam. They were forced to wait outside the stadium until the game had finished and both sets of supporters clashed and this caused mass riots. The regular violent incidents at games led to both majors agreeing to banning away supporters for games in February 2009 for the next five seasons. However, the rule is still in effect.

The highest scoring meeting ended 9-5 in Feyenoord’s favour in August 1960. In fact, the De Klassieker derby has conjured up more than 8 goals in a single match on an astounding seven occasions. This included Feyenoord’s heaviest defeat to Ajax, in which the side from Amsterdam won 8-2 in September 1983.

Ajax have won the most derbies overall and have also won more than double the amount of Eredivisie titles than Feyenoord. Former Ajax player Sjaak Swart scored 18 goals in the derby, which is the most scored by any player.

Tribal History

The rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam originated when both cities received their first city rights in the 13th century. They lead very different lifestyles and also differ in their opinions on attitude and culture.

Rotterdammers are resentful towards Amsterdam’s boastfulness and artistic lifestyle. Amsterdam is renowned for its culture and has produced various famous artists and actors.

Amsterdam take pride in their culture and artistic style, which has transmitted onto the football pitch.

The clash is regularly referred to as the artists of Amsterdam against the workers of Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a harbour town and the citizens take pride in their work ethic and are petered by the glamorous and flashy lifestyles that is perceivably led by the people of Amsterdam.

Some Rotterdammers feel that while “Amsterdam dreams, Rotterdam works”, which further emphasises their difference in opinions. Rotterdam were also forced to work after being bombed by the Nazis during World War II, which is famously known as the Rotterdam Blitz.


Teams Wins Draws Goals Eredivisie Titles
Ajax 82 49 388 33
Feyenoord 58 49 296 14

Ajax have won 82 derbies, whereas Feyenoord have only won on 58 occasions. The score has ended level 49 times, including in their first meeting of the current season. The Amsterdamers are way ahead in terms of domestic silverware. Winning 33 Eredivisie titles, 16 KNVB Cups and 8 Johan Cruyff Shields.

Ajax are also the most successful in European competition, winning 4 European Cup/Champions Leagues and 1 Intercontinental Cup. Whereas, Feyenoord have only won 2 UEFA Cups and one European Cup.

George Bennett

My name is George Bennett, I'm 19-years-old and I'm the founder and administrator for GB Articles Football Blog. I've been writing from the age of 12-years-old and decided to create my own blog to spread my passion for the beautiful game. The blog was created in May 2016 and I've began to assemble a talented group of writers since April 2017. I mainly cover the Premier League, although I also base some reports on the Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and more!

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