Dutch matches to halt in first minute in blanket anti-racism message

Prompted to act after the abuse witnessed in a second-tier clash, the KNVB hope to end such ugly scenes in the nation’s football

This weekend, every club in the Netherlands will stop playing for one minute to make a stand against racism following the abuse suffered by Excelsior’s Ahmad Mendes Moreira.

Moreira was targeted by fans of Den Bosch in Sunday’s second-tier Eerste Divisie game, an act which caused the game to be halted.

The forward reacted by cupping his hands to his ears and confronting the stands after scoring following the restart, while Den Bosch later apologised for the treatment he received at the hands of supporters while denying they contained a racist element. 

But the KNVB governing body is determined to make its stance on such discrimination known, culminating in an unprecedented show of solidarity which will take place across the Netherlands. 

In the first minute of every Eredivisie and lower league game, the matches will be temporarily stopped, with players staying on the pitch. 

A message will simultaneously be shown in each stadium, stating “Racism? Then we won’t play.” 

“We want to make clear that enough really is enough by making a statement on the field”, read a statement from the Eredivisie CV and Coöperatie Eerste Divisie on Wednesday.

“We appreciate that all 90 minutes are important for the matches, so we asked the KNVB to add at least one minute of additional time to compensate for the first minute.”

Excelsior are also planning to show their support for Moreira against Volendam, with fans set to hold up a red card to racism in the 18th minute of the game to reflect the player’s shirt number. 

Liverpool and Netherlands star Gini Wijnaldum was one of the nation’s biggest footballing figures to come to Moreira’s defence following Sunday’s abuse. 

“It really hit me on a personal level,” Wijnaldum told reporters on Monday ahead of Netherlands’ final Euro 2020 qualifier against Estonia in Amsterdam.

“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. It’s a problem in society and a problem that should be solved by our politicians.

“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?’.

“Our ancestors fought for us so we can live freely. If people still perform the Nazi salute, that’s utterly disrespectful. That just can’t happen. We can’t allow that in the Netherlands. That’s what I think. There have to be severe punishments.

“I think the KNVB did well with their statement, saying that they will look into the matter and see what happened. But I think it’s really despicable what Den Bosch did. I might not be allowed to say things like that, but I don’t care any more.

“I think we need to see very high fines. I heard that they want to install cameras to find out who the culprits are. The punishments need to be so severe that nobody even thinks of doing something like this ever again. We want to play football to enjoy ourselves, we want to entertain our supporters. We don’t want to see things like this happening.”

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