A Dutch Turkish footballer has courted controversy after he decided not to wear the rainbow armband for a match in the Netherlands premier league, Eredivisie, last weekend.
Feyenoord captain Orkun Kökçü opted against donning the rainbow armband for his side’s match against AZ Alkmaar on Sunday, 16 October. The rainbow symbol is commonly used to promote people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, or identify in other non-binary forms of sexuality (LGBT+), and for others to show solidarity with them.
The 21-year-old midfielder’s decision not to support the Dutch One Love campaign has generated mixed feelings on social media, with some fans criticising the player’s decision, while others have applauded and supported him.
The Turkish international explained why he didn’t wear the armband for the Eredivisie (Dutch premier league) match: “I have decided not to wear the rainbow captain’s armband this round.
“I think it’s important to emphasise that I respect everyone regardless of religion, background, or preference.
“I believe that everyone is free to do what they want or feel. I fully understand the importance of this action, but because of my religious beliefs, I don’t feel the right person to support this. That’s why I don’t feel comfortable wearing this captain’s armband.
“I can imagine some people are disappointed with this [decision]. That is not my intention, although I realise that I may not immediately be able to take away that feeling with these words. But I hope that my choice for religious reasons will also be respected.”
Feyenoord and Austrian international defender, Gernot Trauner, was instead given the captain’s armband and responsibility to promote inclusivity and diversity on behalf of the club.
Kökçü played a decisive role in the game against AZ Alkmaar, scoring a penalty and registering an assist during Feyenoord’s 1-3 victory, propelling them to third in the league.
The Dutch-born player has come through Feyenoord’s academy to become one of the club’s star players, attracting the interest of many top European clubs, including Arsenal.
Image, top, of Orkun Kökçü, and a ‘Gay Pride Rainbow Captain’s Elasticated Armband’ from the UK’s Gay Pride Shop