Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has hit back at accusations that not wearing a “One Love” armband at the World Cup showed a lack of “backbone”.
It was confirmed on Monday that skippers of the Oranje, England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland would not dorn the armband in Qatar.
That came after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.
“One Love,” which promotes “inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind”, has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
The European nations were criticised for not going through with their pledge to wear the armbands.
But Van Dijk believes it is unfair to be accused of being spineless after the Oranje started the tournament with a 2-0 win over Senegal.
He said: “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.”
It has been reported that captains could have faced a one-match ban if they had worn the One Love armband.