The Netherlands draws line under armband protests at FIFA World Cup | Football news

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File photo of Louis van Gaal©TSTIME

Netherlands national coach Louis van Gaal has confirmed his team will not mirror Germany’s mouth-covering protest ahead of their second World Cup group stage match against Ecuador on Friday. Germany performed the gesture during their team photo ahead of Wednesday’s shock 2-1 defeat to Japan. The German protest came after they were forced to abandon plans to have skipper Manuel Neuer wear a rainbow-themed “OneLove” armband following threats of on-field disciplinary action by FIFA.

Captains from several European countries had initially hoped to wear the rainbow bracelets, which were seen as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. The Dutch camp has said they will not discuss any issues other than football since inviting a group of migrant workers for a training session at their base in Doha last week.

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And Van Gaal doubled down on that decision ahead of a Group A clash in Doha between two teams that both won their opening game at the tournament. “We are here to become world champions,” Van Gaal said at his pre-match press conference.

Dutch fullback Denzel Dumfries added: “Last Thursday we welcomed the migrant workers. It was a great evening for them and for us.

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“We made statements, but we came to Qatar to play, and that’s what we’re focusing on. We said what we had to say, but from now on we have to concentrate on playing football.”

Van Gaal had said on the eve of the tournament that he had “no problem” with supporters in the Netherlands choosing to boycott the World Cup because of their views on human rights issues in Qatar.

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However, he also said he hoped his players would perform well enough to convince fans to tune into their games. “In the Netherlands it has been about human rights for a long time and maybe rightly so, but also maybe not rightly so,” Van Gaal added.

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