News Desk (AFP)
The Hague, Netherlands
Friday 25 June 2021
Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum called on UEFA on Thursday to protect players from discrimination and said UEFA had the power to stop matches if they were marred by racist incidents.
Wijnaldum, who will captain the Dutch national team in Sunday’s 16-year-old European soccer championship against the Czech Republic in Budapest, has hinted that he might walk off the field if he hears racist remarks from the stands.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what the reaction will be,” said Wijnaldum, who will wear a “One Love” badge with a rainbow flag and black ribbon.
“I wouldn’t rule out leaving the field if something like this happened on Sunday, but I will discuss it with my teammates and the referee first. I hope it won’t be necessary.”
Wijnaldum added: “I think UEFA should protect us. They can stop the match. It should not be the responsibility of the players.”
The Dutch captain’s call comes amid a growing row between Budapest and European Union leaders over a new anti-LGBT law that threatens to cast a shadow over the continent’s major soccer tournament.
It also comes after UEFA said on Sunday it would investigate alleged anti-gay banners and monkey noise during Hungary’s first two matches at Euro 2020.
European Union leaders exchanged barbs with Hungary on Wednesday over an anti-gay law, with EU President Ursula von der Leyen calling it a disgrace.
Hungary responded immediately, calling von der Leyen’s statement “a disgrace because it was based on false information”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in Brussels on Thursday that Hungary should be asked to leave the economic bloc if it does not adhere to its values, which include protecting gay rights.
Last week, the right-wing Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban passed a law banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.
Any programs or educational materials that refer to homosexuality are prohibited, which Budapest believes should protect the rights of minors.
17 EU member states have signed on to express their “serious concerns” about LGBT legislation.
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