Players on the most prominent soccer team in the Netherlands followed through on a promise to protest racist abuse from fans by refusing to play for the first minute of their game on Saturday, joining first- and second-division teams across the country.
Ajax and its opponent Heracles began their match with one player holding the ball and both teams remaining stationary for 60 seconds, after which things proceeded like normal
The gesture was met with applause from the crowd, referees and coaches, with players clapping as well.
Ajax and Heracles didn’t kick the ball for the first minute of today’s league match in protest at racism.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 23, 2019
Clubs across the country’s top two divisions agreed to the measure after Excelsior’s Ahmad Mendes Moreira was subjected to racist abuse last weekend. pic.twitter.com/T200UexKdj
During the protest, the scoreboard displayed the message “Racisme? Dan voetballen we niet!” That translates to “Racism? Then we don’t play football.”
The scene was planned after Ahmad Mendes Moreira, a winger for second-division team Excelsior, said he was called a “negro and cotton-picker” by Den Bosch fans on Sunday, the latest in a number of racist incidents across European soccer. Moreira reportedly had to be consoled as he left the field.
Exacerbating the situation was Den Bosch initially reacting to the incident by claiming Moreira mistook “crow sounds” from the crowd as racist abuse. The club has since apologized.
The whole episode was met with widespread outrage, including from Dutch star Memphis Depay.
I’m sick and tired to see these images over and over! When is it going to stop!!? #SayNoToRacism @KNVB @OnsOranje @UEFA what we going to do? Specially with the upcoming @EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/DUt0y2h8IA— Memphis Depay (@Memphis) November 17, 2019
Ajax would go on to win the match 4-1.
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