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Dutch soccer teams protest racist fan abuse by refusing to play for first minute of match

Jack Baer
The Ajax and Heracles players had plenty of support during their protest against racism. (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images)

Players on the most prominent soccer team in the Netherlands followed through on a promise to protest racist abuse from fans by refusing to play for the first minute of their game on Saturday, joining first- and second-division teams across the country.

Ajax and its opponent Heracles began their match with one player holding the ball and both teams remaining stationary for 60 seconds, after which things proceeded like normal

The gesture was met with applause from the crowd, referees and coaches, with players clapping as well.

During the protest, the scoreboard displayed the message “Racisme? Dan voetballen we niet!” That translates to “Racism? Then we don’t play football.”

The scene was planned after Ahmad Mendes Moreira, a winger for second-division team Excelsior, said he was called a “negro and cotton-picker” by Den Bosch fans on Sunday, the latest in a number of racist incidents across European soccer. Moreira reportedly had to be consoled as he left the field.

Exacerbating the situation was Den Bosch initially reacting to the incident by claiming Moreira mistook “crow sounds” from the crowd as racist abuse. The club has since apologized.

The whole episode was met with widespread outrage, including from Dutch star Memphis Depay.

Ajax would go on to win the match 4-1.

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