Germany’s players have used their pre-match team photo to call out FIFA after soccer’s governing body threatened “enormous” sporting punishments if captain Manuel Neuer wore the OneLove captain’s armband against Japan. The issue has been one of the most controversial in the early days of the World Cup with some European nations seeking to oppose Qatar’s LGBTQ+ rights record.
The captains of Germany, England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands were set to wear the armband during the tournament in protest of Qatar’s human rights record. However, the likes of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and Virgil van Dijk backed down after FIFA promised sporting sanctions, including yellow cards against players who resisted.
The German FA has said it will take the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they seek approval to wear the armband in their next match against Spain. Meanwhile, the team have used their pre-game photo to protest, covering their mouths to show they feel they have been silenced.
Germany has since released a statement on the image and has doubled down on its stance. It read: “This was not about making a political statement: human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it is not yet the case. That is why this message is so important to us.”
“Denying us the bracelet is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
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Germany should not have long to learn the outcome of its CAS appeal to the tribunal which has set up an ad-hoc World Cup committee to make decisions within 48 hours of filing the application.
There were rumors before the Japan game that Neuer would defy FIFA and wear the armband, but he ultimately agreed to use the governing body’s “non-discrimination” option. The 36-year-old had him vigorously checked by one of the assistant referees just before kick-off to make sure he was complying.
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