Eredivisie club captain El Yaakoubi steps down over OneLove banner dispute

Excelsior Rotterdam's Dutch defender Redouan El Yaakoubi has relinquished the club captaincy after refusing to pose in a team photo with the OneLove banner ahead of a Dutch top-flight game, the Eredivisie club said on Tuesday.

The incident took place on March 19 ahead of Excelsior's 4-1 home win over SC Cambuur and has resulted in a joint decision between El Yaakoubi and the club to find a new captain.

The OneLove campaign embraces inclusiveness, connection, tolerance and opposition to all forms of discrimination.

"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," Excelsior said on their website.

The club added they would never exclude anyone "on the basis of skin colour, origin, religion, 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 statement added.

"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."

Excelsior are 15th in the standings on 23 points from 26 games, two points above the relegation zone playoffs.