Georginio Wijnaldum says Uefa must protect players against racism
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THE HAGUE – Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum called on Uefa on Thursday to protect players against discrimination, saying European football's governing body had the power to halt matches if they were marred by racist incidents.
Wijnaldum, who will lead the Dutch on Sunday in their Euro 2020 last-16 clash against the Czech Republic in Budapest, also hinted that he may walk off the pitch if racist slurs were heard from the stands.
"To be honest, I'm not sure how I would react," said Wijnaldum, who will sport a "One Love" armband that features the rainbow flag and a black stripe.
"I'm not excluding walking off the field if something like this happens Sunday, but I would first discuss it with my fellow players and with the referee. Hopefully it won't be necessary," he told the NOS public broadcaster.
Wijnaldum added: "I believe Uefa should protect us. They can stop a match. It shouldn't be the players' responsibility."
The Dutch skipper's call comes amid an increasing row between Budapest and EU leaders over its new anti-LGBTQ law which threatens to overshadow the continent's showpiece football tournament.
It also comes after Uefa said Sunday it would probe an alleged homophobic banner and monkey noises during Hungary's first two Euro 2020 matches.
EU leaders traded barbs with Hungary on Wednesday over its anti-LGBTQ law, with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen slamming it as a disgrace.
Hungary immediately hit back, calling von der Leyen's statement "a shame because it is based on false information".
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in Brussels on Thursday that Hungary should be told to leave the economic bloc if it doesn't adhere to its values, including protecting LGBTQ rights.
Viktor Orban's right-wing Hungarian government last week passed a law banning the "promotion" of homosexuality to minors.
It outlaws any educational programmes or material in which homosexuality is mentioned, which Budapest said was to protect the rights of minors.
Seventeen of the EU's member states have signed up to voice their "grave concern" at the LGBTQ law.