Germany’s players protested by covering their faces for a team photo ahead of their opening World Cup match on Wednesday.After the governing body banned the “one love” armband.
The German team stood in traditional formation before their game against Japan, with all 11 players covering their mouths with their right hands in a coordinated gesture.
“It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is bothering us,” Germany coach Hansi Flick said after the match, in which his team lost 2-1.
The gesture was a response to FIFA effectively nixing plans for seven European teams to wear armbands in what was seen as a rebuke to host nation Qatar..
Team captains, including Germany captain Manuel Neuer, planned to wear armbands with a heart-shaped, multicolored logo, a symbol of inclusion and diversity. But the seven federations backed out after FIFA made it clear they would face consequences if they didn’t.
“Our bands may be taken away from us, but we will never let our sound be taken away from us,” Neuer said. “We stand for human rights. That’s what we wanted to show. FIFA may have silenced us regarding the captain’s armband, but we always stand for our values.”
Neuer said the idea for the masking gesture came from the team.
“We really wanted to do something and we thought about what we could do,” Neuer said. “It was clear that we wanted to send a signal.”
FIFA said Germany would not face disciplinary action over the gesture.
Against Japan, Neuer wore an armband with the FIFA-sanctioned “No Discrimination” slogan, although it was hard to see under his jersey sleeve. Neuer said it was too loose and kept slipping.
German Football Federation Posted a statement Explaining his position during Wednesday’s game on Twitter
“With our captain’s armband, we wanted to send a signal to the values that we live by in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. Raising voices together with other nations.
“This is not a political message: human rights are non-negotiable. This should be clear. Unfortunately, this is still not the case. That is why this message is so important to us,” the federation said. . “To refuse to arm us is to subjugate us. We stand.”
Qatar is under scrutiny for its human rights record..
FIFA issued its warning to federations on Monday, hours before England and the Netherlands were set to play with their captains wearing “one-low” armbands. The governing body said the players will be shown an immediate yellow card and may face further consequences.
German football federation president Bernd Neuendorf called the warning “another low blow” from FIFA.
German Interior Minister Nancy Fesser, who is also responsible for sports, waved “one love” in the stands at the German game, where she sat alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Facer posted a photo of himself on Twitter with the hashtag #OneLove.
News agency DPA reported that Fiser wore an armband under a pink blazer, which he took off during the first half.
Earlier, Feser criticized Qatar for forcing a German fan to remove a rainbow armband and headband at another game.
“This is not in line with my understanding of the security guarantees that were given to me by the (Qatari) interior minister,” Feser said. “Security should apply to all people. I’m very disappointed with that.”
The rainbow flag is widely used as a symbol of tolerance for sexual diversity.
“Such symbols should be displayed openly,” Feser said.
At a later match, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib wore a “One Love” armband when she met Infantino at her country’s game against Canada. She also posted a photo of herself wearing the band on Twitter.