Ajax finally got to debut their outstanding 21/22 third shirt from adidas in the Champions League last night – the stage it was made for – but due to UEFA rulings it was missing the Three Little Birds, a key detail that gives the design added meaning. Now, the Dutch side are fighting back by highlighting that meaning and the connection it has to the club.

Ajax enjoyed a 2-1 victory over Besiktas last night in the group stages of the Champions League, a result that solidifies what has been an almost flawless campaign so far, with five wins out of five, 16 goals for, and only three against. The performance looked all the better for the Eredivisie side as it was the first European fixture that they played in their 21/22 third shirt, a design that hits all the right notes in its homage to Bob Marley and specifically Three Little Birds, the Reggae legend’s famous song that the Ajax faithful have embraced as an unofficial anthem. But the Three Little Birds that usually sit beneath the collar on the back of the shirt were nowhere to be seen against Besiktas, with UEFA saying that it was not a symbol of Ajax and therefore could not appear.

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The shirt is hands down one of the best of the season, but it is not the only one to fall foul of the authorities’ rules and regulations this season. But Ajax are fighting back. In response to UEFA’s ruling against the symbol, the club has begun a campaign to address the ban, hoping to overturn the authority’s decision. Headlining the campaign is a video titled "A story about Ajax and the Three Little Birds”, which details the club’s connection with the song, dating back to 2008. At this time they played a friendly match in Cardiff, against Cardiff City F.C. and the Ajax faithful were asked to remain in the stands after the game. To entertain the patient fans, the stadium DJ played several tracks, one of which was Three Little Birds… And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Further to this video there will be a number of locations that the 'Three Little Birds' will appear in the coming days. Starting things off in Amsterdam ahead of their match against Besiktas, the birds (in flag form) were seen flying on the iconic Westerkerk. A unique sight in itself, as it only flies the (national) flag on Liberation Day and when a royal baby is born. The sight was captured perfectly, as three actual birds flew by for what was a poignant visage.

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So while UEFA currently stick to their guns in relation to the appearance of the birds on the kit, the push to reverse that decision grows and the rigid views only strengthen the club’s resolve and the fans' connection with the symbol and what it represents. It almost feels like there’s a deeper meaning behind this battle, with the birds representing freedom and UEFA being the cage that is currently taking that freedom away… or maybe we’ve had one too many. Whether UEFA back down or whether Ajax have to accept the ruling on the kit, it certainly won't stop the Three Little Birds from appearing wherever Ajax are playing, and they'll always carry with them the message not to worry, because every little thing is going to be all right...

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