Fifa World Cup 2022
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Germany players cover their mouths as they pose for the team photo before the start of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match against Japan at Khalifa International Stadium. Photo: dpa

Fifa World Cup 2022: Germany players cover their mouths in protest, official wears ‘One Love’ arm band

  • Players make apparent rebuke of Fifa’s clampdown on protesting discrimination in Qatar with gesture during team photo
  • German interior minister Nancy Faeser, who was pictured sitting next to Fifa president Gianni Infantino, sports ‘One Love’ armband in stands

Germany’s players covered their mouths for their team photo before their opening World Cup match in an apparent rebuke of Fifa’s clampdown on plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in host nation Qatar.

The team lined up in the traditional formation before Wednesday’s game against Japan and each of the 11 players covered their mouth with their right hand.

It seemed to be a response to Fifa’s warning to the seven European federations, including Germany’s, that players would be penalised if they wore colourful “One Love” armbands as a symbol for inclusion and diversity. The seven team captains had planned to wear the armbands.

Qatar has been under scrutiny for its human rights record and laws criminalising homosexuality.

Football’s governing body issued the warning on Monday just hours before the first teams were set to play with their captain wearing the armband. Fifa said the players would immediately be shown a yellow card.

Germany coach Hansi Flick and football federation president Bernd Neuendorf were among those to criticise Fifa’s decision.

Assistant referee Zachari Zeegelaar checks the captain’s armband of German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer before the start of the group E match against Japan at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. Photo: EPA-EFE

Neuendorf has called the warning “another low blow” from Fifa. The governing body has not commented on Wednesday’s gesture by the Germans.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, wore a “One Love” armband in the stands at the Germany-Japan game. Faeser tweeted a photo of herself wearing it with the hashtag #OneLove.

News agency DPA reported Faeser had the armband on under a pink blazer that she took off during the first half.

Germany’s Sports Minister Nancy Faeser (centre) adjusts her “One Love” armband during the World Cup match against Japan at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Photo: EPA-EFE

Faeser was sitting beside Fifa President Gianni Infantino at the game.

Earlier, Faeser criticised Qatar for forcing a German fan to remove a rainbow-coloured armband and headband at another game.

“This is not in line with my understanding of the security guarantees that I was given by the [Qatari] interior minister,” Faeser said. “Security must apply to all people. I’m very disappointed about this.”

The rainbow flag is a widely used as a symbol of tolerance with regard to sexual diversity.

Faeser said in her opinion “such symbols should be openly shown”.