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"Three Little Birds' and the link between Ajax and Bob Marley

A song so important that it is the anthem, but for UEFA it does not identify the club

Three Little Birds' and the link between Ajax and Bob Marley A song so important that it is the anthem, but for UEFA it does not identify the club

"Don't worry, about a thing, 'Cause every little thing, gonna be all right", sang Bob Marley in 1977, and yet between adidas, Ajax and UEFA all has not gone well. As first reported by the German newspaper Der Spiegel and later confirmed by UEFA, Ajax will tonight take to the pitch with a slightly different jersey from the one that sold out within hours of its release, due to paragraph 19.1 of the European regulation that prohibits different expressions to the club and sponsor logos. Yet for Dutch fans it is not just a song, since 2008 the iconic song written and produced by Bob Marley has been embraced and adopted as an anthem, a bit like the biscione is to Inter, in short a real sign of recognition. 

The story of this bond was born by chance, it was 2008 and after the friendly match against Cardiff Ajax asked its fans to stay at the stadium longer than usual, so to break the monotony, the DJ present at the Amsterdam Arena pressed play and sent the fans into raptures with 'Three Little Birds'. From that moment on it was impossible to turn back, in those three minutes a bond was created that could never be broken. A bond made even stronger when in 2018 Bob Marley's son sang his father's song live in the stadium. It's something that has remained alive over time, and in the year that marks the 40th anniversary of his death, adidas and Ajax have decided to seal this bond in the Dutch club's third jersey. Despite contravening UEFA regulations, the Bob Marley-inspired third kit has received nothing but good feedback from fans and critics alike. Menno Geelen, Ajax's club marketing manager, said that it has "sold at least four times more than any other Ajax shirt". 

Something more or less similar happened months ago, the protagonists were Russia, Ukraine and again UEFA with the latter having banned the national team from putting the slogan on the back of their collar which read in the language: "Glory to our heroes". The imposition here was quite clear, the slogan had nothing to do with football but was of a purely political nature and therefore had to be removed. Three Little Birds' is a slightly different matter, it is true that birds are not present in any of the Dutch team's symbols, but it is in fact the club's anthem. The question that arises is: why can't the anthem in fact be considered an expression of the club? Liverpool have included the historic phrase 'You'll never walk alone' several times over the years, but UEFA has never forced the Reds to change it. UEFA was not as lenient as the MLS when the Seattle Sounders presented the Jimi Hendrix-inspired away jersey, where the signature was reproduced on the side as if it were an indelible mark. The story of the legend begins in the heart of Seattle, still influencing the new sounds of the Washington state city but also the routines of the Sounders, who before every home game warm up to the notes of "All Along The Watchtower", a sort of unofficial team anthem. 

Closing with a phrase from the famous reggae artist, if "football is freedom" why should UEFA impose such rules if the symbol in question does not prejudice or offend the identity, the integrity of the singer, the club and finally UEFA itself? It is a question that is difficult to answer, since Ajax have accepted without reservation to change the jersey, waiting to see if the Eredivisie will also align with UEFA or leave intact the beauty of the third kit produced by adidas.