Virgil van Dijk, Dutch teams boycott TV show over racist remarks

The Dutch men's and women's national football team players said on Friday they would no longer grant interviews to a popular TV show due to remarks made by a commentator mocking an anti-racism protester.

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In a statement first published on Twitter by men's team captain Virgil van Dijk, the players said they would no longer speak with the Veronica Inside programme after the host compared a prominent Dutch black activist to "Black Pete."

Black Pete is a fictional character in Dutch winter holiday celebrations usually portrayed by white people wearing black face paint -- a tradition criticised this week by U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson as offensive.

"This is not on the edge, this has nothing to do with humour, this is not the language of football," said Liverpool defender Van Dijk.

The national football association KNVB told national broadcaster NOS that it stood behind the players.

Veronica Offside host Johan Derksen said earlier on Friday that he did not regret his comments.

"I didn't think the joke was really that bad, for me," he told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad after several advertisers announced they were severing ties with the programme.

"This is a storm in a teacup that will blow over," he said.