Germany vs. Japan: German players shut their mouths to protest FIFA ban on free speech in ‘OneLove’ armband scandal


It was such a short moment that thousands of fans at the Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday could have easily missed it.

But the moment, the time it took for the photographers gathered in front of the German national football team to take a picture, was enough for the four-time winners to send a message to football’s world governing body.

All 11 of Germany’s starting line-up posed with their right hand over their mouths, and within minutes, the image was widely shared on social media.

And as Germany started them World Cup campaign against Japan in Group E, the team’s social media feed confirmed that the gesture was meant to protest FIFA’s decision to ban the OneLove armband, which many European captains hoped to wear in Qatar.

It was a game that produced another World Cup shock as Japan came from behind to win 2-1.

Before the tournament, captains from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were planning to wear armbands in the World Cup – with a striped heart in different colors, representing all heritage, lineage, gender and sexual relationships. personality — before FIFA signaled on Monday that the players would receive yellow cards.

On Wednesday, the German Football Federation (DFB) issued a series of tweets shortly after the start of the game indicating that FIFA had prevented them from using their voice to speak out at the World Cup on issues they were passionate about, hence the outcry.

“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to uphold the values ​​we share in the German national team: diversity and mutual respect,” the DFB said. “Together with other countries, we wanted our voice to be heard.

“It was not a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. This should be taken for granted, but this is still not the case. That’s why this message is so important to us.

“Denying us an armband is the same as denying us the right to vote,” the DFB added. “We stand on our position.”

CNN has contacted FIFA for comment.

Before countries announced that their captains would not wear armbands in Qatar, FIFA put forward its own opinion. Campaign “No Discrimination”. and said all 32 captains would have the option to wear campaign-related armbands.

Nancy Feiser in the stands during Germany's game against Japan.

German fan Nick Boetscher told CNN it’s “sad” that FIFA has taken a stance that bans players from wearing an armband.

“Fifa makes a lot of questionable decisions and it’s good that people are talking about it,” Boettcher said. “I am very proud that they did it. This will definitely be talked about, and attention will grow. The pressure on FIFA and Qatar is definitely increasing.”

English fan Sameer Cordell told CNN at that stadium that he was “over the moon” with the protest.

“Germany and German fans should be proud,” he said. “I’m an England fan and I didn’t like that England didn’t wear an armband. I would really like Harry Kane to wear it and get a reservation. I think it’s great, I think it’s fantastic. I take my hat off to them.”

A handful of Germany’s 11 starting teams, including Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller and Ilkay Gündogan, wore rainbow flags on their boots.

The German outcry followed after Wales’ Kane and Gareth Bale took the field on Monday in their games without the OneLove rainbow headband. Germany captain Manuel Neuer also did not wear an armband on Wednesday.

While Neuer chose not to wear the armband, German Interior Minister Nancy Feiser was seen wearing it on her arm while attending the team’s game against Japan.

Nancy Feiser in the stands during Germany's game against Japan.

On Twitter, Faezer posted a photo of herself with an armband in the stands in what appeared to be a show of solidarity with the national team.

Before the game, Faezer criticized FIFA, noting the threat of sanctions for wearing an armband.

“It’s not normal how federations come under pressure,” she said while attending a German football association event, according to Reuters.

“In today’s times, it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly speak out for tolerance and against discrimination. It doesn’t fit in our times and doesn’t suit people.”

Ahead of the World Cup, Qatar, where sex between men is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison, has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.

A Human Rights Watch report released last month documented cases in which Qatari security forces arbitrarily arrested LGBT people and subjected them to “ill-treatment in detention” in September.

However, the country insists that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people, regardless of background.”

And from the very beginning of the tournament, some people attending the World Cup matches in Qatar said that they experienced difficulties when trying to enter the stadium wearing LGBTQ rights clothing.

At the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday, ahead of the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) match against Wales, American football journalist Grant Wahl and former Wales captain Laura McAllister said they were ordered to remove their rainbow-colored clothing. security staff