German players protest FIFA by covering their mouths during the World Cup
In an apparent rebuke of FIFA’s crackdown on plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in host nation Qatar, Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo before their opening World Cup match.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against Japan, the team lined up in their customary formation with each of the 11 players covering their right mouth with their hand.
It seemed to be a reaction to FIFA’s warning to seven European federations, including Germany’s, that players would be punished if they wore colourful “One Love” armbands as a symbol for inclusion and diversity. A total of seven captains were supposed to don the armbands.
Human rights abuses and anti-gay legislation have brought attention to Qatar.
The soccer association issued the warning on Monday, hours before the first games were to be played with the captains wearing the armband. FIFA stated that a yellow card would be issued to the players immediately.
Some have criticised FIFA’s decision, including the coach of the German national team, Hansi Flick, and the president of the German soccer federation, Bernd Neuendorf.
The warning has been described as “another low blow from FIFA” by Neuendorf. As of this writing, the governing body has said nothing in response to the Germans’ overture on Wednesday.
At the Germany-Japan game, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also in charge of sports, sported a “One Love” armband. A picture of Faeser wearing it was tweeted with the hashtag “#OneLove”
Faeser allegedly wore the armband under a pink blazer in the first half, which she removed for halftime, as reported by the DPA news agency.
At the game, Faeser sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Faeser had previously spoken out against Qatar for making a German supporter remove a rainbow-colored armband and headband before a different game.
“This is not in line with my understanding of the security guarantees that I was given by the (Qatari) interior minister,” Faeser said. “Security must apply to all people. I’m very disappointed about this.”
The rainbow flag is a popular symbol of acceptance for people of different sexual orientations.
Faeser stated that “such symbols should be openly shown.”