OneLove armband: why Excelsior Rotterdam captain Redouan El Yaakoubi relinquished captaincy over OneLove row

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Excelsior Rotterdam captain has relinquishes his role over OneLove banner

The Excelsior Rotterdam defender Redouan El Yaakoubi has relinquished his captaincy with the club after he refused to pose for a team photo with the OneLove banner. The decision was made jointly by the Dutchman and the Eredivisie club after the incident happened before their 4-1 win over SC Cambuur on 19 March.

The OneLove is a campaign which promotes diversity and inclusion in football. It was created by the Dutch football association during the 2020 season but rose to more prominence before the 2022 World Cup. Several countries, including England and Wales, had initially said they would wear the OneLove captain’s armband during matches but would go on to abandon this idea as players were set to face disciplinary action from FIFA if they did.

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Speaking ahead of the World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi said: “There’s going to be different values and different views coming in. So, far me, if you’re going to come specifically to make a statement here in Qatar - or specifically addressed to Qatar and by extension, the Islamic world - it leaves a very divisive message.”

Excelsior said in their announcement that the mutual decision would allow both parties to “feel free and comfortable in their role.” Excelsior currently sit 15th in the standings and have 23 points from their 26 games and are just two points above the relegation zone playoffs. Their next fixture will take place this Saturday against Twente, who currently sit fifth in the Eredivisie.

El Yaakoubi (far left) has relinquished captaincy with SBV ExcelsiorEl Yaakoubi (far left) has relinquished captaincy with SBV Excelsior
El Yaakoubi (far left) has relinquished captaincy with SBV Excelsior | ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Who is Redouan El Yaakoubi?

Born in 1996, Redouan El Yaakoubi began playing football with USV Elinkwijk before joining De Meern in 2015. With De Meern, the Dutch footballer was promoted to the Derde Divisie. In May 2017, after having initially decided to move to DVS ‘33, El Yaakoubi went to sign for FC Utrecht led by Erik ten Hag.

He made his Eerste Divisie debut for Jong FC Utrecht in August 2017 and would go on to make nearly 50 league appearances for the club before joining Telstar in 2019. He made nearly 60 league appearances for SC Telstar and in April 2021 signed a two-year contract with Excelsior with an option for an additional season.

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He has made 52 league appearances, scoring eight goals along the way.

What has been said?

The club has released a statement saying: “Not taking a seat behind the large OneLove banner during the team photo has caused a lot of noise and misunderstanding, both internally and externally.”

The club added it would never exclude anyone “on the basis of skin colour, religion, origin, or sexual preference. But neither will we exclude anyone on the basis of their own opinion. Although we are primarily a football club, we realise better than anyone that we also have a social function and we do something with that every day.

“The OneLove action, however well intentioned, has put things on edge. Forcing people into something is never the way to go. Therefore in the interest of the club, the player and sporting objective we have jointly decided to place the captain’s armband elsewhere within the team so that both club and player feel free and comfortable in their role.”

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