DOHA, Qatar (AP) – The Netherlands are not expected to emulate Germany by making a gesture to protest host Qatar’s human rights record ahead of Friday’s World Cup match against Ecuador.
Germany’s players covered their mouths for the team photo ahead of their game against Japan on Wednesday to protest FIFA’s crackdown on the One Love armbands. Seven European teams including the Netherlands and Germany had planned to wear the item to censure Qatar.
Qatar has been criticized for its anti-homosexuality laws and treatment of migrant workers needed to build stadiums, metro lines, roads and hotels.
Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries said the players would not do anything on the field on Friday because they felt they had done enough after hitting some migrant workers head-on.
“No no. We were very careful, as the coach said. We received the migrant workers and it was a wonderful (time) for both them and us,” Dumfries said through an interpreter on Thursday. “In the last two weeks we have talked a lot (about human rights). We said what we have to say and now we have to focus on football.”
The exact number of migrant workers who have died or been injured working on projects in often extreme heat since FIFA selected Qatar to host the World Cup in December 2010 is unclear. Definitive data were difficult to verify or were not published by the authorities.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said the Dutch team would not take any further action.
“Because (last) Thursday when we invited the migrants, we put a dot behind all political issues and we have that goal,” Van Gaal said through an interpreter. “It’s only been about human rights (so far), and maybe rightly so and maybe not rightly so. But I think that’s enough.”
Germany’s gesture on Wednesday was in response to FIFA’s warning to the seven European federations that players would be penalized for wearing the colorful “One Love” armbands, seen as a symbol of inclusion and diversity.
Van Gaal was asked if he thought the German team would be affected by their political gesture on the pitch. The four-time world champion lost 2-1 to Japan in the opening game.
“That’s the question. That’s the question,” said Van Gaal. “I don’t want to take that risk. We’re here to be world champions.”
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