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‘We just want to play football’ – Virgil Van Dijk hits back at critics over OneLove armband controversy

Virgil Van Dijk hits back at critics over OneLove armband controversy

Virgil van Dijk has responded to critics claiming the Netherlands and other countries are lacking backbone in the anti-discrimination armband controversy.

The Netherlands were one of seven European countries that were supposed to wear the armband, including England, Wales and Germany.

The armband is part of a year-long campaign which would send a powerful message in Qatar, a country that abhors same-sex relationships.

However, the seven countries dropped their plans after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions, including yellow cards for the captains if the armbands were worn, instructing teams to wear a FIFA-approved ‘no discrimination’ band instead.

After the Netherlands’ 2-0 win against Senegal on Monday evening, the Oranje captain Van Dijk told the Dutch broadcaster NOS (via Guardian): “I play in a position where a yellow card is not useful. 

“I became a football player, and I want to play these kind of tournaments. There are people who say we don’t have a backbone, but that’s not how it works.

“We just want to play football. I would have loved to play with that band, but not at the expense of a yellow card.”

England captain Harry Kane had insisted he would wear the armband as a message of anti-discrimination and support for the LGBTQ+ community. However, faced with FIFA’s threat, the Tottenham Hotspur striker backed down.

After England’s 6-2 win over Iran in their World Cup opener on Monday, Kane admitted he was ‘disappointed’ not to be able to wear the band during the game.

Meanwhile, Germany captain Manuel Neuer could also face fines and suspensions after insisting he would wear the armband when Die Mannschaft kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan.

The German Football Association is worried about the consequences of Neuer wearing the rainbow armband, but the Bayern Munich skipper seems undeterred by any repercussions.

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