DOHA, Qatar – German players covered their mouths for their team photo ahead of their World Cup opener in an apparent rebuke to FIFA’s crackdown on plans to wear armbands to protest the discrimination in the host country, Qatar.
The team lined up in the traditional formation ahead of Wednesday’s game against Japan and each of the 11 players covered their mouths with their right hands.
It appeared to be a response to FIFA’s warning to seven European federations, including Germany, that players would be penalized if they wore colorful “One Love” armbands as a symbol of inclusion and diversity. All seven team captains had planned to wear the armbands.
Qatar is under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Football’s governing body issued the warning on Monday just hours before the first teams were set to play with their captain wearing the armband. FIFA said the players would immediately receive a yellow card.
German coach Hansi Flick and football federation president Bernd Neuendorf were among those who criticized FIFA’s decision.
Neuendorf called the warning “another low blow” by FIFA. The governing body did not comment on Wednesday’s move by the Germans.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, wore a “One Love” armband in the stands during the Germany-Japan match. Faser tweeted a picture of her wearing it with the hashtag #OneLove.
DPA news agency reported that Faeser wore the armband under a pink blazer she took off during the first half.
Faeser sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the match.
Earlier, Faeser slammed Qatar for forcing a German fan to remove a rainbow-colored armband and headband in another game.
“It does not correspond to my understanding of the security guarantees given to me by the (Qatari) interior minister,” Faeser said. “Safety should apply to everyone. I’m very disappointed about that.”
The rainbow flag is widely used as a symbol of tolerance for sexual diversity.
Faeser said in his view that “such symbols should be displayed openly”.