German players covered their mouths during their pre-match photo shoot and wore rainbow-colored stripes on their pre-match jerseys and boots ahead of Wednesday’s game against Japan. It was the most dramatic move yet against FIFA’s efforts to stop World Cup teams from protesting Qatar’s grim human rights record.
Germany were one of seven European teams planning to have their captain wear a OneLove armband to promote tolerance, diversity and LGBTQ rights in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are banned. FIFA responded on Monday by threatening to issue a yellow card to any player wearing the armband.
But if Fifa President Gianni Infantino thought that was the end of it, he was wrong.
Germany’s gestures were only part of a rapidly escalating campaign against Infantino’s edict. German Home Secretary Nancy Faeser, who sat next to Infantino at Wednesday’s game, wore the armband prominently, and US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken commented on the controversy during his recent visit to Qatar.
At a news conference, Blinken said “any restrictions on free speech” are “always of concern” to the United States. “This is especially the case when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” Blinken continued. “And in my opinion, at least, nobody on a football pitch should be forced to choose between supporting those values and playing for their team.”
After Germany’s 2-1 defeat, national coach Hansi Flick said his team “sent a message… that FIFA will silence us.” The German national team has long campaigned for human rights.
The German Football Association also supported its players and posted a sharply worded statement on Twitter shortly after the match against Japan kicked off.
“With our captain’s armband, we wanted to set an example for the values that we represent in the German national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard,” it said. “It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should go without saying, but it isn’t yet. That is why this message is so important to us. Denying us an armband is like denying us a vote. We stand by our position.”
According to the Bild newspaper, the German association is considering a legal challenge to the FIFA decision.
“FIFA has banned us from taking a stand for diversity and human rights. He combined this with massive threats of sporting sanctions without specifying them,” said DFB spokesman Steffen Simon. “That [federation] checks whether this action by FIFA was lawful.”
Bad luck for injuries for France, Senegal
France, who arrived in Qatar without five injured players, lost another on Wednesday as coach Didier Deschamps issued a statement saying Lucas Hernandez, the world champions’ left-back four years ago, would miss the rest of this tournament after he fractured the ACL in his right knee in the first eight minutes of Tuesday’s win against Australia.
Last week, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was ruled out of the World Cup after suffering an injury in training.
Senegal also have injury problems. Already missing Sadio Mane, African Player of the Year, Senegal are likely to be without midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate against Qatar on Friday after injuring his right thigh. Kouyate, a key central midfielder for Senegal, was stretchered in the second half of his side’s opening defeat by the Netherlands.
Kouyate’s 84 caps rank Senegal fifth all-time.
Ticket problems flare up
Issues with FIFA’s mobile ticketing application continue to cause inconvenience to fans as they have been unable to retrieve the digital passes required to enter the stadium.
On Tuesday, at Al-Janoub Stadium, an Associated Press reporter saw a FIFA employee writing out replacement tickets with pen and paper to get spectators to their seats. Other fans were admitted after showing emails to security officials confirming their ticket purchases.
Ticket issues have plagued several venues, prompting organizers to set up ticket resolution desks. All Qatar World Cup tickets were distributed via the FIFA mobile app. The glitch caused hundreds of fans to miss the start of Monday’s match between Iran and England.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2022-11-23/world-cup-notes-23 World Cup: German players protest FIFA ban on LGBT symbols