Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum is prepared to lead his players in walking off the pitch should racial abuse occur during his country’s matches at Euro 2020.
Wijnaldum has also called on UEFA to take stronger action in tackling racism and has thought long and hard about a walk off protest if subjected to racism when Frank de Boer’s side play the Czech Republic in Sunday’s Euro 2020 last-16 tie in Budapest.
The new Paris Saint-Germain midfielder will wear the armband with words ‘One Love’ and a rainbow motif in standing for diversity at the Puskas Arena.
Investigations of racist and homophobic behaviour by supporters are currently being conducted by UEFA after incidents in Hungary’s group stage matches against Portugal and France at the venue.
Wijnaldum is quoted by Sky Sports, speaking on the subject matter saying, “I’ve thought about it very carefully,”
“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?”
The 30-year-old also said that the responsibility for action rests with UEFA and its match officials.
“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.”