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25th Jun 2021

Netherlands prepared to walk-off if racially abused at Euros

Kieran Galpin

Wijnaldum calls for harsher regulation on social issues during matches

Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum has called out UEFA regarding how they address racism and putting players in difficult positions. He insisted that it should not come down to the individual deciding whether or not to leave the pitch.

Wijnaldum told Sky Sports that he has thought “long and hard” about whether he would leave the pitch if faced with racist abuse during the match against the Czech Republic on Sunday.

UEFA’s blatant disregard for social issues has come under fire in recent weeks. From kneeling before matches to displaying pride colours, the institution faces allegations of ignoring key issues while also pumping out empty gestures of support.

“I’ve thought about it very carefully,” said Wijnaldum, who will wear an armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I previously indicated that I would walk off but that was easier to say back then because I had never really run into that problem.

“After that, I started to think very hard about it. Gini, you will play in Hungary later in the tournament, what will you do if it happens? What if you play against a weaker team and those fans know that and they antagonise you to get you to walk off the field so that you lose the match?”

“I think I will go to the referee but, to be honest, I’m not sure what my reaction is going to be in the heat of the moment,” he said.

“I’ve never experienced it myself and I hope never to. But if it happens, UEFA must act. They need to realise that if they don’t, they are putting a big responsibility on the players.

“UEFA must protect the players. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the players.

“Some players have walked off in the past but if you ask them if they felt supported, I think they’ll say they weren’t.

“If the referee, or maybe the opponents, jump in, then the signal is stronger. That’s what I’m thinking right now but I’m not ruling out walking off the field if something like that happens on Sunday.”

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