'I do not understand': 31-year-old Liverpool player baffled by what FIFA told him to do yesterday
Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images

'I do not understand': 31-year-old Liverpool player baffled by what FIFA told him to do yesterday

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk has given a disappointed reaction to FIFA instructing him not to wear the OneLove armband yesterday.

Van Dijk was set to sport the band whilst captaining Holland in their Group B opening clash with Senegal. However, FIFA instructed that should he wear the strap, the Liverpool man would be instantly booked.

As a result, the decision was taken that the Reds defender wouldn’t wear the item. Now, speaking to NOS via De Telegraaf after the Netherlands beat Senegal 2-0, van Dijk has given his take.

“We were willing to make a statement, but to start the game with a yellow card is not that convenient. Especially not at my position. I would have liked to wear the band, but not at any cost. Too bad it couldn’t be done, but I’m here first and foremost as a footballer,” said the 31-year-old.

“It has become clear that there was a sporting sanction in the form of a yellow card. I wanted to play with it, but then I would have gone into the game with a yellow card. I didn’t want to take that risk. I do not understand why there had to be a sporting sanction on this. I think that’s bad. But that’s just the way it is and we have to move on.”

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Van Dijk masters the art of staying out of the book

It seems a little unfair that this decision ultimately lay with van Dijk. He was the one with risk here. Playing on the biggest stage for the first time, he’ll be desperate not to put that in jeopardy.

A booking in the opening game would have meant then walking a tight rope for not only the game with Senegal, but also the subsequent matches.

However, if any centre-half can avoid a booking, it’s Virgil van Dijk. Since arriving at Liverpool, the centre-back has picked up just 14 bookings in 202 games.

Photo by Pablo Morano/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Quite remarkably, the No.4 has scored more goals for the Reds (17) than he’s collected yellow cards.

For comparison, Dejan Lovren accumulated almost twice as many bookings for Liverpool (26) in 17 less games than van Dijk.

So, you’d have probably backed Virgil to keep his cool and not risk a suspension. But as his country’s key player and leader, you can understand his decision.

Instead of throwing the players under the bus, perhaps it’s time FIFA came out to explain these sanctions.

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