Germany’s players cover their mouths during a FIFA World Cup protest

Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo ahead of their World Cup opening match in protest at FIFA for cracking down on plans by seven teams to wear armbands, which have been seen as a reprimand for host country Qatar’s human rights record.


what you need to know

  • Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo to protest FIFA for cracking down on plans by seven teams to wear armbands, seen as a reprimand for host nation Qatar’s human rights record
  • The German team lined up in the traditional formation ahead of Wednesday’s game against Japan, with each of the eleven players covering their mouths with their right hands
  • It was a response to FIFA’s warning to the seven European federations, including Germany, that players would be penalized for wearing colorful “One Love” armbands as a symbol of inclusion and diversity
  • Qatar has come under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalizing homosexuality

The German team lined up in the traditional formation ahead of Wednesday’s game against Japan, with each of the eleven players covering their mouths with their right hands.

“It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA was muzzled,” said national coach Hansi Flick after his team’s 2-1 defeat against Japan.

The gesture came in response to FIFA’s warning to the seven European federations, including Germany, that players would be penalized if they wore colorful “One Love” armbands as a symbol of inclusion and diversity. Germany captain Manuel Neuer and the other six team captains had planned to wear the armbands for their opening matches at the World Cup.

The German Football Association DFB tweeted a statement on its position during Wednesday’s game.

“With our captain’s armband, we wanted to set an example for the values ​​that we live in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. Be loud together with other nations.

“It is not a political message: human rights are non-negotiable. That should be clear. Unfortunately, she still isn’t. That’s why this message is so important to us,” the association said. “Denying us an armband is like muzzled us. Our stance stands.”

Qatar has come under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalizing homosexuality.

The Football Association issued its warning on Monday, just hours before England and the Netherlands were due to play with their captains sporting the heart-shaped, multicolored One Love campaign logo. FIFA said players would see a yellow card immediately and could face further consequences.

National coach Hansi Flick and football association president Bernd Neuendorf criticized the FIFA decision, among other things.

Neuendorf called the warning “another low blow” to Fifa. The board did not comment on the gesture of the Germans on Wednesday.

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sport, wore a “One Love” armband in the stands at the Germany-Japan game, where she sat next to Fifa President Gianni Infantino. Faeser tweeted a photo of himself with the hashtag #OneLove.

The DPA news agency reported that Faeser wore the armband under a pink blazer, which she shed in the first half.

Earlier, Faeser criticized Qatar for forcing a German fan to take off a rainbow-colored armband and headband at another game.

“This does not correspond to my understanding of the security guarantees that the (Qatari) interior minister gave me,” said Faeser. “Security must apply to everyone. I am very disappointed about that.”

The rainbow flag is a widely used symbol of tolerance towards sexual diversity.

Faeser said, in her opinion, “such symbols should be shown openly”.

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