After Excelsior player Ahmad Mendes Moreira suffered racist abuse during his side’s 3-3 draw with Den Bosch in the Dutch second division on Sunday, Gini Wijnaldum has hit out at the reaction which has followed the incident.
Moreira left the field after around half an hour, with the referee halting play for a spell, before the match continued. Moreira then scored and celebrated by cupping his hands to his ears in front of the opposition fans.
According to Goal, Den Bosch coach Erik van der Ven called Moreira a “pathetic little man” post-match, leaving Wijnaldum furious.
Via the same report, Wijnaldum explained: “It really hit me on a personal level. 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.
“I hope that there will be severe punishments. This really can’t happen again. It’s not just the racism to the player – 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?’.
“We can’t allow that in the Netherlands. That’s what I think. There have to be severe punishments. 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.”
Stronger punishments for racism simply have to be imposed in the future, or the issue will just continue. Clearly, the sanctions that are in place at the moment are simply not working.
For someone as high-profile as Wijnaldum to come out and make a strong statement is a good start, but as he says, more needs to be done on a wider scale by those at the very top.