Germany players cover mouths in protest for World Cup photo
Germany's football team players cover their mouths as they pose for a group photo before the World Cup group E football match between Germany and Japan, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, November 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

DOHA, Qatar, (AFP) - Germany's players covered their mouths for the team photo before their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday in protest at FIFA's refusal to allow rainbow-themed armbands.

Captains of seven European teams had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands during the tournament in Qatar as part of a campaign for diversity, but backed down over the threat of disciplinary action from football's governing body, including yellow cards.

The rainbow armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Germany's football federation said in a tweet moments after the photo protest that "human rights are not negotiable".

"This is not a political position; human rights are not negotiable," the DFB tweeted.

"To ban the armband is like banning our right to speak," the federation added.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was at the Khalifa International Stadium for the Germany-Japan match.

The German government spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said earlier in the day in Berlin that FIFA's decision to bar captains from wearing the "OneLove" armbands was "very unfortunate".

"The rights of LGBTQ people are non-negotiable," Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who was to attend the game in Doha against Japan, said FIFA's ban was a "huge mistake".

Not only players, but fans should also be allowed to show pro-LGBTQ symbols "openly", she told reporters in Qatar.

Security staff at the World Cup have ordered spectators to remove items of clothing featuring rainbow logos.

Supporters should however "make a decision for themselves" about whether they wanted to wear the symbols, Faeser said.

Underlining tensions at the tournament over the issue, Belgium's Jan Vertonghen said on Tuesday in Qatar that he was "afraid" to talk about human rights.

Vertonghen, speaking on the eve of Belgium's opening game against Canada later Wednesday, said he did not feel comfortable.

"I'm afraid if I say something about this I might not be able to play tomorrow," the defender said.

"It's an experience I've never felt in football before. I feel controlled. I'm afraid to even say something about this.

"We're just saying normal things about racism and discrimination and if you can't even say things about it, that says it all.

"I want to appear on the pitch tomorrow, so I'll leave it at that.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy