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'Human rights are non-negotiable' - Germany players cover mouths for World Cup team photo

Germany’s players used the team photo before their game against Japan to protest Fifa’s refusal to allow rainbow-themed armbands.

Germany's team photo ahead of today's World Cup meeting with Japan.
Germany's team photo ahead of today's World Cup meeting with Japan.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

GERMANY’S PLAYERS COVERED their mouths during the team photo before their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday in protest over Fifa’s refusal to allow rainbow-themed armbands.

Captains of seven European teams had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands as part of a campaign for diversity during the tournament in Qatar, but backed down over the threat of disciplinary action from world football’s governing body.

Shortly after the game kicked-off, Germany’s football federation published a picture of the team photo on Twitter with the message: “human rights are not negotiable.”

“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect,” the DFB said in a tweet.

“Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard. 

“It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us.

“Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

Earlier on Wednesday Fifa’s decision to bar players from wearing the “OneLove” armband was described as “very unfortunate” by a German government spokesman.

“The rights of LGBTQ people are non-negotiable,” Steffen Hebestreit said at a regular press conference.

It was regrettable that “it is clearly not possible at the Fifa World Cup to take a position or to show a sign of solidarity”, he said.

Hebestreit added he hoped the debate around the armband would “positively change” the attitude of football associations and the organisers of major sporting events.

The rainbow armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

Captains of several European teams had planned to wear the symbol as part of a campaign for diversity during the tournament hosted by Qatar, but they backed down over the threat of disciplinary action from Fifa, world football’s governing body.

Gavin Cooney
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The teams have since come under fire at home for failing to take a stronger stand against Fifa’s stance on the armbands.

“I suppose you have to wear the armband now. I would maybe take my chances,” Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck told German public broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who will attend the Germans’ opening game in the Qatari capital Doha, said Fifa’s ban was a “huge mistake”.

Not only players, but fans should also be allowed to show pro-LGBTQ symbols “openly”, she told reporters in Qatar.

Security staff at the tournament have ordered spectators to remove items of clothing featuring rainbow logos.

Supporters should however “make a decision for themselves” about whether they wanted to wear the symbols, Faeser said.

For the latest news coverage on the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, see here >

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