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Dutch teams to halt play for a minute in racism protest

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By Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Play at all professional soccer matches in the Netherlands will be halted for a minute this weekend to protest against racism, after a match was suspended last week following the abuse of a player.

Players will not move in the first minute of every match in the country’s Eredivisie and second-tier First Division, while the message “Racism? Then we won’t play” will be shown on all screens and boarding in the stadiums, the Eredivisie said.

“We want to raise attention to the abuse in the stands and discrimination on the field in the Netherlands,” the Eredivisie said.

“We want to remind fans that soccer belongs to everyone, no matter what their cultural background, religion or sexual preference is.”

Den Bosch’s game against Excelsior Rotterdam was suspended for 10 minutes last Sunday, as the referee took the players off the field after Excelsior forward Ahmad Mendes Moreira was verbally abused by a section of the home fans.

The incident led to outrage throughout the country, with players from the Dutch national team making several public statements against racism before their Euro 2020 qualifier against Estonia on Tuesday.

Netherlands midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Frenkie de Jong also gestured to their different skin colours as part of a goal celebration during the match.

Mendes Moreira and Excelsior on Thursday decided to press charges against the group of fans, after prosecutors had said they had opened an investigation into the alleged abuse.

As in other European countries, racial abuse is not uncommon at soccer matches in the Netherlands, yet matches are rarely suspended for it.

Another incident involving Den Bosch occurred in 2013 when a cup match against AZ Alkmaar was briefly suspended as fans racially abused U.S. international Jozy Altidore.

Feyenoord were fined in 2015 by European football’s governing body UEFA after fans threw a large inflatable banana at AS Roma forward Gervinho.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Toby Davis)