Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has become the latest player to declare he’d walk off the pitch if racially abused in a match.
Holland international Wijnaldum hopes he would be supported by his team-mates in taking such a stance, regardless of whether the game was a Champions League or Euro 2020 final.
“Memphis Depay said it in the conversation that I had with him, really good, that a lot of people don’t understand the pain you feel as a black player if you get abuse,” said Wijnaldum to CNN Sport, referring to his Dutch team-mate. Asked if he would walk off, Wijnaldum replied: “Yeah, I would. Why should I play, in that case? I think everyone should do it. That’s the way you support another person, because why should you go on?
“If you go on, it will never stop, because the people will think: ‘OK, we will abuse the player, they will go inside, we will stop a little bit, but they will come outside again, we will play the game, so why should we stop?’”
As to whether he would do so in a major final, he said: “Yeah, I would, for sure, because those things, in my opinion, cannot happen.
“Everyone will have their own opinion about it, but in my opinion you should also protect the players.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a Champions League night at Anfield may actually come as a relief to Napoli opponents dealing with significant internal strife.
Reports claim the Serie A club’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis is to fine every player 25% of their monthly wages after they refused to attend a squad training retreat earlier this month.
Fans have turned their anger on the players, and the club have imposed a media ban on both the squad and manager Carlo Ancelotti from speaking about the turmoil, leading to Italian media to label the situation “civil war”.
But Klopp remains wary of a side which is the only one to have beaten his team twice in the last year, even if Napoli have not won in their last six matches.
“I expect them really strong for different reasons,” said Klopp.
“I don’t know the reasons, but now they are not in Italy, they are in Liverpool, it is a different competition and they may feel a relief they can play completely free.”
Mohamed Salah was an unused substitute in the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday after missing training with an ankle problem. But Klopp said: “Mo Salah looks really good. I’m not worried about it.”
Klopp also provided an update on the fitness of defender Joel Matip, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, saying: “Joel is improving, but is some time away. There will be a scan this week and then we will see how it is.”
Meanwhile Ancelotti insists he has never considered resigning during his 30-year managerial career and isn’t going to now.
“It’s not something I’ve ever done,” said the 60-year-old.
“Perhaps if the club doesn’t trust me and doesn’t have confidence then I might think about it or if the players don’t trust me I might think about it, but that’s never happened to me, I’ve never picked up on that kind of signal, it’s never happened in 30-odd years, and it’s not happening now.”