German players cover their mouths in a team photo between OneLove armbands

Germany players put their hands over their mouths in a team photo before their World Cup Group E match against Japan on Wednesday as the controversy over FIFA’s threat to punish the “OneLove” captaincy continued.

The German players all joined in the gesture in front of dozens of photographers on the pitch before the match, after world football body FIFA threatened to punish seven European teams if they wore the symbolic captain’s armband. for diversity and tolerance.

“Of course, it’s important for us to make a statement like this,” the German striker Kai Havertz told ESPN after the game. “We talked about the game, what we can do, and I think it’s the right time to show people that — yeah, we try to help whenever we can. . Of course FIFA wasn’t easy for us but we tried to show it off.”

Germany coach Hansi Flick added: “It’s a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is silencing us.”

Captains, including captain Germany Manuel Neuerplanned to wear the captain’s armband with a heart-shaped, multi-colored logo, a symbol of inclusion and diversity.

“We may be stripped of our straps, but we will never let our voices be taken away,” Neuer said. “We stand for human rights. That’s what we want to show. We may be silenced by FIFA about the captain’s armband, but we always defend our values.”

Neuer says the idea for the mouthguard came from the group.

“We really wanted to do something and we thought about what we could do,” Neuer said. “Obviously we want to send a signal.”

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, seated next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino in the stands, wore the captain’s armband as she chatted with the football manager.

She has previously criticized FIFA, saying that threatening sanctions is wrong and unacceptable.

“This is not okay, how much pressure the federations are under,” Faeser said during a visit to a German Football Federation event in Doha, Qatar, before the game.

“In this day and age, it’s hard to understand why FIFA doesn’t want people to openly advocate tolerance and fight discrimination. That’s not right for our times and it’s not right for everyone. .”

A statement from the German Football Association (DFB) said: “We want to use our captaincy to defend the values ​​we hold within the German national team: diversity and respect. Together with other countries, we want our voices to be heard and heard.

“It’s not about making a political statement — human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it’s not. That’s why this message is so important. important to us. Denying our captaincy is like denying our voice. We stand our ground.”

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar.

Dutch striker Davvy Klaassen said his side could join Germany in protesting ahead of the game, but has yet to make a decision.

“Of course we as a group are thinking about making such a statement. It must be a good way,” Klaassen said. “I think what the Germans have done now… it’s an original way to spread the message. I think this is a good German expression.”

Information from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.


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