Georginio Wijnaldum and team-mate Frenkie de Jong came together to send out an anti-racism message during the Netherlands’ 5-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Estonia on Tuesday.
Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum was the star of the show for Ronald Koeman’s side in Amsterdam, hitting a hat-trick as the Oranje wrapped up their qualification campaign in style.
However, the game was just as significant for his celebration, which sent out a powerful anti-racism message.
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After opening the scoring after six minutes, the 29-year-old ran over to the touchline and called over team-mate De Jong. He then held his forearm next to the Barcelona midfielder’s, pointing out the different skin tone to highlight the fact that football is a game for every race and colour.
The celebrations were in response to racist abuse suffered by Excelsior player Ahmad Mendes Moreira in the 3-3 draw with Den Bosch in the Dutch second division on Sunday.
The game was temporarily halted following the abuse, with the Excelsior players leaving the pitch in protest. The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has pledged to investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators.
Speaking about the incident earlier this week, Wijnaldum called for tough sanctions for anyone found guilty of racism and said players must be allowed to walk off the pitch and halt the game if they receive any abuse.
"I never expected anything like this to happen in the Netherlands,” he told reporters. “I'm really shocked. It did happen, unfortunately, and the way people have talked about the incident really hurt me.
"I think we need to see very high fines. I heard that they want to install cameras to find out who the culprits are. The punishments need to be so severe that nobody even thinks of doing something like this ever again. We want to play football to enjoy ourselves, we want to entertain our supporters. We don't want to see things like this happening.”
Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake and 18-year-old debutant Myron Boadu were also on target for the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Koeman’s side had already secured their place at Euro 2020 following a goalless draw against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Saturday.