Qatari locals responded to Germany’s mouth-covering gesture by bringing photos of Mesut Ozil to the country’s clash with Spain in the World Cup. The former Arsenal star walked away from the national team in 2018 citing “racism” and “lack of respect”.
Germany made headlines during their loss to Japan after covering their mouths during their team photo, suggesting they had been silenced from speaking out about Qatar’s record on LGBTQ+ and human rights.
National captain Manuel Neuer had set out to join the captains of Denmark, Belgium, England, Wales and the Netherlands by wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband in protest of Qatar’s LGBTQ+ laws, but backed out after FIFA threatened the Bayern Munich goalkeeper with sports sanctions, including a yellow one. cards and possible match suspensions.
However, the Qatari locals have not taken kindly to the protest and have hit back by taking photos of Ozil at the match. The creative midfielder made 92 appearances for the national team between 2009 and 2018, but has stopped citing “racism” and “disrespect.”
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“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that, due to recent events, I will no longer play for Germany internationally while I have this feeling of racism and disrespect,” the 34-year-old wrote in a statement at the time. “I used to wear the German jersey with such pride and emotion, but now I don’t. I feel unwanted and I think what I have achieved since my international debut in 2009 has been forgotten.”
His decision came after Germany’s early exit from the World Cup in 2018 with Ozil feeling he had been unfairly blamed for what had happened. The player, who is of Turkish descent, had been heavily criticized before the tournament for taking a photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been accused of human rights abuses and had spoken negatively of Germany in the past.
Qatari locals tried to highlight what they saw as the protest’s double standards by highlighting Ozil’s comments about his treatment.
Germany will not face any punishment from FIFA for their protest and explained why in a statement issued at the time.
It read: “This was not about making a political statement: human rights are non-negotiables. 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.”
Germany salvaged an equalizer from their game with Spain despite falling behind in the 62nd minute thanks to an Álvaro Morata goal. Niclas Fullkrug leveled the score with his second international goal, meaning the country needs to be Costa Rica in the final group game to have any chance of reaching the round of 16.
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