- Georginio Wijnaldum made a powerful anti-racism statement after scoring the first of his three goals for the Netherlands on Tuesday.
- The Liverpool FC midfielder ran to the touchline, held out his arm next to his teammate Frenkie de Jong’s, and pointed to the colours of their skin.
- The gesture was a response to the reported racial abuse on Sunday of Excelsior Rotterdam’s Ahmad Mendes Moreira, who said Den Bosch fans called him a “negro and cotton-picker,” according to the BBC.
- “It really hit me on a personal level,” Wijnaldum told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Liverpool Echo, adding, “It’s a problem in society.”
- The Netherlands beat Estonia 5-0 on Tuesday.
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Georginio Wijnaldum had an evening to remember for the Netherlands on Tuesday.
The Liverpool FC midfielder not only captained his home country’s team in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, but scored his first international hat trick in a 5-0 win over Estonia.
His biggest statement on the night, however, came in the sixth minute of the game, when he celebrated his first goal with a powerful anti-racism message.
The 29-year-old had just headed home from the edge of the six-yard box when he ran to the cameras on the touchline, held out his arm next to his teammate Frenkie de Jong’s, and pointed to the colours of their skin.
An anti-racism celebration from Wijnaldum ????????
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) November 19, 2019
The message was a response to reported racial abuse of a black player in the Eredivisie over the weekend.
Ahmad Mendes Moreira, who plays for Excelsior Rotterdam, said Den Bosch fans called him a “negro and cotton-picker” at the Van Donge & De Roo Stadion on Sunday, according to the BBC.
The BBC reported that the game was stopped for 10 minutes and that Dutch authorities were now investigating.
“It really hit me on a personal level,” Wijnaldum told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Liverpool Echo.
“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.
“It’s a problem in society. As a player, you can’t really change anything about it. But I still think that players should try and support each other. It’s a problem in society and a problem that should be solved by our politicians.”
Ronald Koeman, the Netherlands’ national team manager, said that Wijnaldum told him about the gesture before the game and that it was “nice to see,” according to the BBC.
— Gini Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) November 19, 2019
Wijnaldum became the first midfielder to score a trio of goals for the Netherlands since Johan Neeskens in 1972, the BBC said.