Coronavirus pandemic

AZ seek Uefa action on Ajax's auto berth

AMSTERDAM • AZ Alkmaar have written to Uefa, as they want the European governing body to overturn the Dutch football association's (KNVB) decision to award Ajax Amsterdam the country's sole automatic berth in the group phase of next season's Champions League.

When the KNVB cancelled the rest of the Dutch season after it had been suspended in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ajax were leading AZ in the standings on goal difference. That prompted the KNVB to award Ajax the automatic Champions League spot normally reserved for the Dutch champions, while AZ would have to secure a lucrative spot through the qualifying rounds.

The Netherlands is one of a handful of European countries to abort the rest of the season after the country went into lockdown. As a result, no title was awarded and no team was relegated.

AZ believe they should have been made the top-placed team as they had beaten Ajax both home and away in the league.

"Goal difference is no objective differentiator," the club wrote to Uefa, several media reported.

But the KNVB said it did not plan to change its decision.

"Uefa has informed the KNVB and referred AZ to us," KNVB spokesman Jaap Paulsen said on Monday. "We have informed AZ that nothing has changed. We decided the places for European club competition on the basis of three criteria: transparency, objectivity and sportsmanship. We are keeping the rankings and Ajax is No. 1."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2020, with the headline 'AZ seek Uefa action on Ajax's auto berth'. Print Edition | Subscribe