Germany stage defiant protest against FIFA before World Cup upset

Germany's football team cover their mouths ahead of their World Cup clash against Japan.
In response to FIFA threats of yellow cards for on-field human rights protests, Germany posed for their team photo while covering their mouths. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Germany have remained steadfast in the desire to show support for human rights in Qatar, after they and six other teams were forbidden from wearing an armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights. FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards against captains of teams who wore the 'OneLove' armband.

Human rights have been a major issue at the 2022 World Cup, with host nation Qatar coming under heavy criticism for the treatment of thousands of migrant workers recruited to construct the eight stadiums needed for the tournament. Reports have suggested as many as 6500 may have died in the years leading up to the World Cup.

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The outlawing of same-sex relationships in Qatar has also been a sticking point, with fans prevented from entering stadiums with rainbow colours worn in support for LGBTQ+ causes.

In response to FIFA's threat of sporting penalties for human rights protests, German players all held their hands over their mouths, to signify they were being muzzled by football's governing body.

Germany's interior minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sports, also wore a OneLove armband in the grandstand while sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

"It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is muzzling us," Germany coach Hansi Flick told reporters.

In a statement, the German football federation backed the stance being taken by their players, arguing sport was a crucial venue for protest to occur.

“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 for us," the statement read.

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

FIFA's threat of yellow cards for protesting infuriated the nations and human rights groups and followed Infantino labelling western nations as hypocrites for criticising Qatar. Denmark on Wednesday vowed not to vote for Infantino when he stands for re-election as FIFA president next year.

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The Socceroos released a video message last month demanding Qatar decriminalise same-sex relations and also describing recent workplace reforms in the Middle Eastern nation as inconsistent.

Government of some nations have boycotted the cup but Australia's sports minister Anika Wells has held talks with the Qatari government since last Sunday.

"We believe in open dialogue and we believe that we need to show up to have it," Wells told reporters on Wednesday.

"So I showed up to take Australia's seat at the table again and to have that open dialogue.

"There was no need for me to make clear to the Qatari government the Socceroos' video, obviously that had been broadcast around the world."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is seen standing with German interior minister Nancy Faeser.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was accompanied by German interior minister Nancy Faeser, who donned a 'OneLove' armband in support of the German national team's protest. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Wells said Qatar's government wanted wider acknowledgement of recent reforms progress in the strict Islamic nation.

"On behalf of the Australian government I made clear ... we acknowledge the progress that has been made," she said.

"There is more to be done but I really feel like we had an constructive, frank discussion about that ... I was quite surprised by how humble, honest and constructive they were about it.

"I conveyed to them what has been made very clear to me in Australia, which is that Australians want to see more done.

" ... I put that in the broader context of that is the case for all of us, we could all do more to advance human rights.

"And that this global scrutiny will turn itself upon us in July next year (when) we host the Women's World Cup."

With AAP

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