German players cover their mouths during the FIFA protest

The German team lined up in the traditional formation for Wednesday’s game against Japan, with each of the 11 players covering their mouths with their right hands.

“It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is muzzling us,” Germany coach Hansi Flick said after his team’s 2-1 defeat to Japan.
Players from Germany pose for the team photo while covering their mouths during the World Cup Group E football match between Germany and Japan, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
Players from Germany pose for the team photo while covering their mouths during the World Cup Group E football match between Germany and Japan, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The gesture came in response to FIFA’s warning to seven European federations, including Germany, that players would be punished if they wore colorful “One Love” bracelets as a symbol of inclusion and diversity. The seven team captains planned to wear the armbands.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer and the other six team captains planned to wear the armbands in their opening matches at the World Cup.

The German Football Association DFB tweeted a statement about its position during Wednesday’s match.

“With our captaincy, we wanted to send a signal for values ​​we live in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. Being loud together with other nations.

“It is not a political message: human rights are non-negotiable. That should be clear. Unfortunately, it still is not. That is why this message is so important to us,” said the federation. “To deny us the bracelet is like muzzling us. Our attitude remains.”

Qatar is under scrutiny for its record on human rights and laws criminalizing domestic sexuality.

Football’s governing body issued the warning on Monday just hours before the first teams were due to play with their captain wearing the armband. FIFA said the players would receive an immediate yellow card.

Germany national coach Hansi Flick and Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf were among those who criticized FIFA’s decision.

Neuendorf called the warning “another low blow” from FIFA. The governing body has not responded to the gesture of the Germans on Wednesday.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, wore a “One Love” bracelet in the stands at the match between Germany and Japan. Faeser tweeted a photo of herself wearing it with the hashtag #OneLove.

The DPA news agency reported that Faeser wore the bracelet under a pink blazer that she took off during the first half.

Faeser sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the match.

Faeser previously criticized Qatar for forcing a German fan to remove a rainbow colored armband and headband at another match.

“This is inconsistent with my understanding of the security assurances I received from the (Qatari) interior minister,” Faeser said.

“Security should apply to all people. I am very disappointed about this.”

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

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

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