Germany players protest FIFA decision to ban OneLove armband ahead of Japan game

The Germany team made a protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the OneLove armband at the Qatar World Cup, covering their mouths before their clash with Japan to signal that they have been silenced.

A statement from the official Germany national team read: ‘With our captain’s armband, we wanted to set an example for values that we live in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. Be loud together with other nations. This is not about a political message: human rights are non-negotiable.

‘That should go without saying. Unfortunately it still isn’t. That is why this message is so important to us.

‘Banning us from the armband is like banning our mouths. Our stance stands.’

Germany, along with England and Wales, were among a small group of European nations planning to wear the rainbow armband as a show of inclusivity and anti-discrimination.

However, on Monday morning, shortly before England began their campaign against Iran, the group of seven nations decided they would not wear the strap after threats from FIFA.

It was reported that the captains wearing the armband would receive a yellow card, but it has since been revealed that further, unspecified threats were made and Germany have labelled FIFA’s actions as ‘blackmail’.

The DFB’s media director Steffen Simon told German Deutschlandfunk radio: ‘The tournament director went to the English team and talked about multiple rule violations and threatened with massive sporting sanctions without specifying what these would be.

‘We lost the armband and it is very painful but we are the same people as before with the same values. We are not impostors who claim they have values and then betray them.

‘We were in an extreme situation, in an extreme blackmail and we thought we had to take that decision without wanting to do so.’

There was further German support for the OneLove armband, with German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser donning the strap in the stands in Qatar.

The reaction in Germany to the U-turn on wearing the armband has been poor, with the largest supermarket chain in the country REWE dropping their sponsorship of the national team.

Simon added: ‘I can understand the disappointment. We had the choice between the plague and cholera.’

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