To protest FIFA, German players covered their mouths throughout the World Cup.
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Germany’s players covered their mouths for a team photo before their first World Cup match, an apparent rebuke to FIFA’s prohibition on wearing armbands to protest prejudice in host country Qatar.
Before Wednesday’s game against Japan, the team lined up in the traditional formation, with each of the 11 players covering their lips with their right hand.
It appeared to be in response to FIFA’s warning to the seven European federations, including Germany’s, that players who donned bright “One Love” armbands as a sign of inclusivity and diversity would be penalised. The armbands were intended to be worn by the seven team captains.
Qatar has come under fire for its human rights record and regulations that make homosexuality illegal.
The warning was issued by soccer’s governing body just hours before the first teams were scheduled to play with their captain wearing the armband. FIFA stated that the players would be given a yellow card immediately.
FIFA’s decision was criticised by Germany coach Hansi Flick and soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf.
FIFA’s warning has been dubbed “another low blow” by Neuendorf. The ruling body has not responded to the Germans’ gesture on Wednesday.
In the stands at the Germany-Japan game, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also in charge of sports, wore a “One Love” armband. Faeser used the hashtag #OneLove to tweet a photo of herself wearing it.
According to DPA, Faeser wore the wristband under a pink blazer that she removed during the first half.
At the game, Faeser sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Previously, Faeser chastised Qatar for requiring a German fan to remove a rainbow-colored wristband and headband during another game.
“This contradicts my understanding of the security guarantees provided to me by the (Qatari) interior minister,” Faeser added. “Security must apply to everyone. I’m quite disappointed.”
The rainbow flag is generally recognised as a symbol of tolerance for sexual diversity.
According to Faeser, “such emblems should be openly shown.”