IT was the turn of the Netherlands to deal with yet another example of racism in football.

Players for second division sides Excelsior and Volendam, in a bipartisan show of unity, stood still for the first minute of their match in a symbolic gesture against racism.

Excelsior’s Ahmed Mendes Moreira was earlier this month subjected to racist chants by Den Bosch supporters.

Indeed, players in the top two divisions agreed to the silent vigil as a show of strength against racism. They were roundly applauded by appreciative crowds.

The players also wore anti-racism shirts. Signage of the statement “Racism? Then we don’t play football,” were seen around the ground. Supporters held red cards reading “show racism the red card,” at the 18th minute. This is the number Excelsior player Moreira, 24, wears.

Moreira said he had been called “a negro and a cotton-picker” by Den Bosch supporters. This was denied by the club who suggested that Moreira had mistaken “crow sounds” by the crowd. Including songs about “Black Pete.”

“Zwarte Piet,” as the racist caricature is known in Holland, has historically been part of the country’s Saint Nicholas festivities but its use in recent years has drawn protests across the nation.

The character is usually portrayed by white people in blackface with wigs and red lipstick. On the same day as the match, the city of Den Bosch saw demonstrations from both pro and anti “Zwarte Piet” protestors.

“We think we have to accept this in 2019,” Moreira told Fox Sports after the match. “Of course you would prefer to talk about the game but I am just angry and disappointed that this still needs to happen.”

Moreira walked off the pitch after 30 minutes due to the abuse, with his teammates consoling him and then turning to remonstrate with a section of the crowd.

Following the resumption of the match, Moreira scored to put Excelsior 2-1 up and celebrated by cupping his ears in the direction of the Den Bosch supporters.

After the game, which eventually finished 3-3, the Dutch FA (KNVB) confirmed it had opened an investigation into the incident.

“There is no room for racism in football,” the KNVB statement read.

“Unfortunately, racism is a social problem that sometimes also arises in football. This is at odds with what we want with sport: connecting people. That is why we are taking a crackdown on racism.

“Together with the club, we are now looking at how the perpetrators can be traced and dealt with. Finally, this incident will be further investigated through the independent disciplinary system.”

After the game, Moreira said FC Den Bosch manager Erik van der Ven had called him a “pathetic little man,” which the coach later backtracked on and tried to justify.

Extraordinary.

“I did not say that [pathetic little man] about the fact that he felt attacked but more about the fact he ran to the stand [after scoring a goal] and stood there very provocatively,” Van der Ven told Fox Sports. “In my opinion that isn’t smart because the game was already temporarily postponed.

“I shouldn’t have said it, but things were a bit heated at the time. I support Mendes Moreira 100%. I am absolutely against any form of racism, I don’t want have anything to do with racism,” he added, somewhat sheepishly.

Dutch international and Lyon star Memphis Depay tweeted his support of Moreira following the match, urging the KNVB to take action.

“I’m sick and tired to see these images over and over!” he wrote. “When is it going to stop!!?”

The incident is the latest addition to a growing list that has disgraced European football this season, with racist chants already stopping games in Italy, Ukraine and on the international stage.

Earlier this month Italian striker Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch after receiving alleged racist abuse. Balotelli is no stranger to racism throughout his career.

And a Shakhtar Donetsk player called Taison was shown a red card for reacting to racist jeers from the crowd during a match on 10 November against Ukranian team Dynamo Kyiv.

Bulgaria had been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors – one suspended for two years – for their fans’ racist abuse of England players in a Euro 2020 qualifier. England’s 6-0 win in Sofia was stopped twice and could have been abandoned, but the visitors chose to play on.

The hosts already had a partial stadium closure for that match on 14 October because of previous racist behaviour.

Bulgaria were also been fined 75,000 euros (£65,000) by Uefa.

The Bulgaria fans’ behaviour included Nazi salutes and monkey chants and the match was stopped twice for racist chanting by home supporters.

The reasons for the apparent rise of racism is complicated, but surely is linked to right-wing extremism and nationalistic belief systems. That, and the rise of anger and aggression towards government failures, the costs of living, social injustices, class divides, the questioning of religious relevance and the diminishing morality of the human race.

Sport must and can do more to oppose this increasing wave of aggression.

Ludo Aequitas proposes intervention in the primary, secondary and tertiary frameworks. It would like to see the LUDO CREED on the screens of stadia in all sports across the globe. As well as athletes of different backgrounds – race, colour, age, sex, gender, religion, disability and social status – DO THE LUDO.

Ludo Aequitas supports the action of temporary suspending matches for racial abuse of any player. It emphasises the investigation and punishment of perpetrators.

But it also advocates an educational program to be introduced into schools aimed at teaching moral values to children regarding discrimination of any kind.

 

Image via Time24 News

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