German players cover their mouths in Qatari stadium ahead of World Cup clash with Japan in growing row over OneLove armband
- The action was taken after FIFA threatened to punish teams wearing the band
- England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark had said on Monday they had been put under pressure by FIFA to abandon plans
- Band was to support LGBTQ rights in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal
- Yesterday, DFB said it was considering taking legal action against FIFA
Germany’s players placed their hands over their mouths during a team photo ahead of their game against Japan in a World Cup Group E match on Wednesday in protest.
The action was taken after FIFA threatened sanctions against teams and their captains if they went ahead with their plan to wear the LGBTQ ‘OneLove’ armband.
All German players took part in the gesture in front of dozens of photographers on the pitch in Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal – ahead of the kickoff.
Meanwhile, watching from the stands, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Fraser wore the banned armband instead. She had disguised it underneath a pink blazer, which she took off as the game began – revealing the band and the heart-shaped logo.
‘We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect,’ the German Football Federation (DFB) said in a statement posted to Twitter.
‘Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.’
In a second tweet, DFB said: ‘[The gesture] wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.’
Germany’s players placed their hands over their mouths during a team photo ahead of their game against Japan in a World Cup Group E match on Wednesday in protest
Watching from the stands, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Fraser (pictured) wore the banned armband instead. She had disguised it underneath a pink blazer, which she took off as the game began – revealing the band and the heart-shaped logo.
World football body FIFA had threatened seven European teams with sanctions if they wore the armband symbolising diversity and tolerance.
England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark had said on Monday they had been put under pressure by FIFA, and abandoned the plans to wear the symbol in the conservative Muslim country.
The German FA announced yesterday that it is considering taking legal action against FIFA to end the ban. The armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
The DFB’s media director Steffen Simon told German Deutschlandfunk radio that England, who had been the first team to be expected to wear it on Monday in their game against Iran, had been threatened with multiple sporting sanctions.
‘The tournament director went to the English team and talked about multiple rule violations and threatened with massive sporting sanctions without specifying what these would be,’ he said.
Simon, who did not specify if he was referring to local organisers or FIFA in his reference to the tournament director, said the other six nations then decided to ‘show solidarity’ and not wear it.
‘We lost the armband and it is very painful but we are the same people as before with the same values. We are not impostors who claim they have values and then betray them,’ he said.
‘We were in an extreme situation, in an extreme blackmail and we thought we had to take that decision without wanting to do so.’
It was revealed today that FIFA allegedly sent six officials to the England football team’s headquarters on the day of their Qatar World Cup match against Iran and threatened them with drastic sanctions if players wore the ‘OneLove’ armbands.
Meanwhile, Denmark has proposed a blanket withdrawal from FIFA alongside other UEFA nations over the row.