File image of Louis van Gaal© AFP
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has confirmed his team will not mirror Germany’s mouth-covering protest before their second World Cup group game against Ecuador on Friday. Germany performed the gesture during their team photo prior to Wednesday’s shock 2-1 defeat against Japan. The German protest came after they were forced to abandon plans for skipper Manuel Neuer to wear a rainbow-themed “OneLove” armband following threats of on-field disciplinary action by FIFA.
Captains of several European nations had initially hoped to wear the rainbow armbands, which had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host nation Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. The Dutch camp has said they will not discuss any issues other than football since they invited a group of migrant workers to a training session at their base in Doha last week.
And Van Gaal doubled down on that decision ahead of a Group A clash in Doha between two teams who both won their opening matches at the tournament. “We are here to become world champions,” Van Gaal said at his pre-match press conference.
Netherlands full-back Denzel Dumfries added: “Last Thursday we welcomed the migrant workers. It was a wonderful evening for them and us.
“We have made statements but we came to Qatar to play, and that’s what we are focusing on. We have said what we need to say but from now on we need to concentrate on playing football.”
Van Gaal had said on the eve of the tournament that he had “no problem” with supporters in the Netherlands who chose to boycott the World Cup due to their views on human rights issues in Qatar.
However, he also said he hoped his players would perform well enough to persuade fans to tune into their games. “In the Netherlands for a long time it has been about human rights and perhaps rightly so, but also maybe not rightly so,” Van Gaal added.
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