Germany players have used their pre-match team photo to call out FIFA after football’s governing body threatened ‘massive’ sporting punishments if captain Manuel Neuer was to wear the OneLove captain’s armband against Japan. The issue has been one of the most controversial of the early days of the World Cup with some European nations looking to make a stand against Qatar’s record on LGBTQ+ rights.
Captains from Germany, England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands were all set to wear the armband during the tournament in protest at the human rights record of Qatar. However, the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Virgil van Dijk backed down after FIFA pledged sporting sanctions, including bookings against players making a stand.
The German FA have claimed they will take the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they seek to win approval to wear the armband in their next match against Spain. In the meantime the team have used their pre-match photo to protest, covering their mouths to show that they feel they have been silenced.
Germany have since released a statement on the picture and doubled down on their stance. It read: “It 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.”
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Germany should not have long to find out the result of their CAS appeal with the court setting up an ad-hoc committee for the World Cup to make decisions within 48 hours of an application being submitted.
There had been rumours ahead of the Japan match that Neuer would defy FIFA and wear the armband, but in the end he complied to wear the governing body’s approved ‘no discrimination’ alternative. The 36-year-old had it vigorously checked by one of the assistant referees right before kick-off to ensure he was complying.