The Dutch Football Association has launched an investigation after a second division game between FC Den Bosch and Excelsior was stopped due to alleged racist abuse.
Sunday’s match was temporarily halted after Excelsior winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira was subjected to alleged racist chanting by the home fans, including songs about ‘Black Pete.’
‘Zwarte Piet,’ as the racist caricature is known in Holland, has historically been part of the country’s Saint Nicholas festivities but its use in recent years has drawn protests across the nation.
Traditionally depicted as Saint Nicholas’ helpers, the character is usually portrayed by white people in blackface with wigs and red lipstick. On the same day as the match, the city of Den Bosch saw demonstrations from both pro and anti ‘Zwarte Piet’ protestors.
“We think we have to accept this in 2019,” Moreira told Fox Sports after the match. “Of course you would prefer to talk about the game but I am just angry and disappointed that this still needs to happen.”
Moreira walked off the pitch after 30 minutes due to the abuse, with his teammates consoling him and then turning to remonstrate with a section of the crowd.
Following the resumption of the match, Moreira scored to put Excelsior 2-1 up and celebrated by cupping his ears in the direction of the Den Bosch supporters.
After the game, which eventually finished 3-3, the Dutch FA (KNVB) confirmed it had opened an investigation into the incident.
“There is no room for racism in football,” the KNVB statement read. “Unfortunately, racism is a social problem that sometimes also arises in football. This is at odds with what we want with sport: connecting people. That is why we are taking a crackdown on racism.
“Together with the club, we are now looking at how the perpetrators can be traced and dealt with. Finally, this incident will be further investigated through the independent disciplinary system.”
The KNVB said its protocols for incidents of racist abuse had been followed correctly.
‘When is it going to stop?’
In the game’s aftermath, Moreira said FC Den Bosch manager Erik van der Ven had called him a “pathetic little man,” comments which the coach later backtracked on and tried to justify.
“I did not say that [pathetic little man] about the fact that he felt attacked but more about the fact he ran to the stand [after scoring a goal] and stood there very provocatively,” Van der Ven told Fox Sports. “In my opinion that isn’t smart because the game was already temporarily postponed.
“I shouldn’t have said it, but things were a bit heated at the time. I support Mendes Moreira 100%. I am absolutely against any form of racism, I don’t want have anything to do with racism.”
FC Den Bosch confirmed it was investigating the incident and said the club “emphasizes once again that it distances itself from discrimination and racism.”
Dutch international and Lyon star Memphis Depay tweeted his support of Moreira following the match, urging the KNVB to take action.
“I’m sick and tired to see these images over and over!” he wrote. “When is it going to stop!!?”