Wijnaldum to wear rainbow armband and ready to walk off if racially abused

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AP</span>
Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AP

Georginio Wijnaldum will wear a captain’s armband bearing the words “One Love” and a rainbow motif for the Netherlands’ last-16 Euro 2020 tie against the Czech Republic in Budapest on Sunday, and has said the team could walk off if abused as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappé allegedly were in group games at Puskas Arena.

The armband stands for diversity. Wijnaldum said it was partly directed at Hungary’s passing of a law that forbids gay people from featuring in educational materials in schools or TV shows for those under 18.

Related: Rainbow stadiums: German football lights up for solidarity – in pictures

“It is not not just against Hungary,” he said. “The armband means a lot because we stand for diversity – one love means everybody is a part of it and everybody should be free to be who they are.”

On Wednesday Uefa ruled that Munich could not light up the city’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours to support LGBTQ+ rights for the evening’s match between Germany and Hungary because it contravened the governing body’s rules regarding political and religious neutrality.

“In our opinion [the right to be yourself] has been encroached upon,” Wijnaldum said. “As players we have a podium to do whatever we can to help.”

Uefa is investigating alleged racial abuse of Mbappé and homosexual slurs aimed at Ronaldo during France’s and Portugal’s group matches against Hungary. Wijnaldum stated he could take the Netherlands side off if similar occurred on Sunday but called for Uefa to take any decision needed.

“Uefa should be there to protect the players and make the decision,” he said. “It should not be left to the players. Players often get punished for protecting themselves so Uefa needs to take a lead role in this.

“I have said I don’t really know how I will react in such a situation. I thought first that I would walk off the pitch but maybe not now because maybe the opponent will think: ‘Let them [in the crowd] throw racist slurs and they will walk off the pitch.’ It could be the case that I will walk off the pitch but I will speak with the players about it first.”

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