The line between solidarity and peer pressure is often thin. This weekend, all Antwerp players collectively stood behind the controversial banner directed at Marc Overmars. In extra time, the guests searched for the players' motives.
Photo of Antwerp players standing together in solidarity behind the banner.Overmars, behind you forever“They rallied after the home game against Charleroi and dominated the final match day.
The gesture was a statement of support for their manager, Marc Overmars, whose recent suspension for inappropriate behavior at Ajax was universally endorsed by FIFA.
This gesture was not universally welcomed, but Geert Verheyen outlines the responsibility of the players in this regard: “Standing behind such a banner as a player does not necessarily mean you agree with what he did, I think.”
“You are of course creating this perception now. But you can say: What he did is not good. But as a friend I will continue to support him. Unfortunately, that nuance is lost on such a banner.”
Then you also have the expectations and pressures from the audience. “When players celebrate something with the fans, sometimes things happen that you have to think about afterwards. This happened to me too.”
“At that moment you don't think about it enough and you do things for the fans, not for yourself. As a player, you're often expected to be involved in something like that.”
“It certainly doesn't seem easy to me not to stand behind such a banner, when your whole team does,” says Erik van Looy, an Antwerp fan who watched the spectacle from the stands.
As a player, you're often expected to simply participate in something like this.
However, Van Looi also had mixed feelings about the situation: “It was very mysterious to me. Such a banner is something very visible and the message will definitely reach the Netherlands, where the victims live. This is very strange.”
“On the other hand, you feel that the man in question is very well liked by the club and the players, and they felt it necessary to show their support in this way for someone who has now been punished enough, I think.”
“You can see that he is paying for what he did. When he comes to shake hands, you can feel that he realizes that as soon as his back is turned, his mistakes will be talked about.”
“I don't mean to say that what he did was wrong. Quite the contrary. That's why such a sign remains a very vague idea to me.”
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