Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum has revealed that he will walk off the pitch if he is ever racially abused, and insists that abandoning games is the only way to tackle racism.
This past weekend saw yet another case of abhorrent chanting from the terraces, as a Dutch second division clash between Excelsior and Den Bosch resulted in Ahmad Mendes Moreira being targeted with racist abuse.
Both sets of players left the pitch, but after half-an-hour play resumed, and Moreira went on to score in a 3-3 draw, cupping his hands to the Excelsior fans in defiance.
However, fellow Dutchman Wijnaldum has revealed that had he and his international teammates suffered such abuse, they would have handled the situation far differently.
“I walk off the pitch. I’m going for sure. I’ll never accept that,” Wijnaldum said, as quoted by AS, ahead of his side’s final European qualifier with Estonia on Tuesday.
“You shouldn’t come back on the pitch. What is the point in coming back? What has changed? Everything just stays the same.
“We talked about it with our guys. Look at our squad. We are one. We don’t look at skin colour. We play for the Dutch team, we play for this shirt, we play for the people.
Post-match, Den Bosch coach, Erik Van der Ven, labelled Moreira ‘a pathetic little man’ for his reaction and Wijnaldum was not only upset with the perpetrators, but also with those watching on.
He added: “I never expected anything like this to happen in the Netherlands. I’m really shocked. It did happen, unfortunately, and the way people have talked about the incident really hurt me.
“It’s a problem in society. As a player, you can’t really change anything about it. But I still think that players should try and support each other.
“I hope that there will be severe punishments. This really can’t happen again. It’s not just the racism to the player from Excelsior, but I also saw someone doing the Nazi salute in the stands. When I saw that, I thought, ‘What is wrong with you if you do something like that?”
The Liverpool star conceded the incident had taken the shine off Saturday’s 0-0 draw in Northern Ireland, which ensured qualification for next summer’s European Championships.
“We play so we can entertain the people,” he said. “We play so we can be at a big tournament such as the Euros again.
“We are so happy about qualifying and then this happens a day later. It’s so surreal because those people that did this will be cheering for us if we perform well at the Euros.”