Georginio Wijnaldum has called for 'hard fines' to tackle racism in football after an incident marred a league match in the Netherlands. The Liverpool midfielder has pledged to walk off the field if it happens to him.
"If it were to happen to us, I would leave the field right away," were the defiant words of Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum when asked how he would react to racist abuse in a Netherlands game.
The 29-year-old was asked for his reaction to Excelsior striker Ahmad Mendes Moreira being subjected to racist chanting and monkey chants by Den Bosch fans in a second-tier league game in the Netherlands on Sunday, an ugly moment that resulted in the players being taken off the field by the referee, in line with UEFA's protocol for such incidents. Wijnaldum's response was clear.
"This is a social problem, it is something for politics," the Champions League winner said. "Action must be taken against this type of practice; and not only against racism. A Hitler salute was also issued. How can you do that? That is really disrespectful, that is simply not possible. And it cannot be accepted either."
Wijnaldum went on to explain that harsher penalties must be implemented if the problem is to be tackled successfully in football. "Hard fines are the best way to tackle this. I read somewhere that there should be cameras everywhere. The punishment must be so harsh that no one would do that."
'Too comfortable with racism'
Netherlands forward Memphis Depay addressed the incident in a social media post, asking: "When is it going to stop?!" and national team coach Ronald Koeman echoed his players' stance, adding that the Netherlands are "too comfortable" with racism and called for tougher sanctions.
"Every time something like this happens, the perpetrators are tackled with kid gloves," the former Ajax coach and player said. "You have to leave the field. We would do that as a Dutch team," he added.
The Dutch football association also commented on Sunday's incident, vowing to "crack down" on such incidents. A KNVB statement read: "There is no room for racism in football. 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."