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Germany players make World Cup human rights protest

  • November 23, 2022

While the One Love campaign was dropped under threat of sanctions from world governing body FIFA, the German men’s national team still found a way to send their message at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino in attendance at the Khalifa International Stadium for their opening group game against Japan, Hansi Flick’s charges produced a photo for the ages. It was one that came with a clear message regarding the One Love debacle. 

“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard,” read a statement released by the German FA on Twitter.

A match official checks Manuel Neuer's armband during a World Cup match
FIFA have been keen to police the message displayed on armbands throughout the tournamentImage: Ina Fassbender/AFP

“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.”

Interior minister wears the captain’s armband

One person did manage to wear the One Love armband assigned to Germany captain Manuel Neuer, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser. She sported it in the stands. The DFB have also said it is considering legal action over the issue.

In German newspaper Bild, DFB spokesman Steffen Simon said: “FIFA has forbidden us to make a sign for diversity and human rights. It has combined this with massive threats of sporting sanctions without specifying them. The DFB is checking whether this action by FIFA was lawful.”

The German national team have long taken an active stance in using their platform to address the issues surrounding human rights infringements across the world. Their demonstration ahead of their clash with Japan is reminiscent of the message they sent at the start of 2021 ahead of their first World cup qualifier against Iceland. 

When asked on Tuesday about the One Love debate, midfield Joshua Kimmich admitted that it had crept into the Germany dressing room adding that the side “are very reflective and point the issues out.”

Germany players pose in t shirts spelling out the message 'Human Rights'
Germany’s players have a recent history of protestImage: Tobias Schwarz/Getty Images/AFP

At the time, he wouldn’t be drawn on whether the players had anything planned. But less than 24 hours later, Flick’s charges took to the pitch with warmup gear that had a decidedly multicolored trim, before covering their mouths for the customary squad photo.

FIFA are yet to release a statement regarding Germany’s protest.

More to follow…

Edited by: Matt Pearson

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