Germany protest FIFA decision to block rainbow armbands

Germany protest FIFA decision to block rainbow armbands

DOHA, Qatar — As photographers lined up at the Khalifa International Stadium, preparing for the traditional but often superficial ritual of taking a team photo, German players made the World Cup their moment to take a stand.

Raising their right hand to their mouth and keeping it until the last picture was taken, Germany went into a silent act of rebellion against football’s world governing body FIFA, which had prevented its captain to wear a multicolored armband during the match as part of a social justice campaign.

The action came two days after FIFA stopped not only Germany but also several other European teams from wearing armbands promoting gay rights by threatening them with in-game discipline, a move that has infuriated teams – and led to charges against the organizer of the intimidation tournament. – but was eventually followed.

The campaign aimed to raise awareness among marginalized groups in the host country, Qatar, which criminalizes same-sex behavior. The teams informed FIFA of their plans in September but only got a response hours before England, the first of the teams to commit to taking a stand, opened their campaign on Monday. Teams said they expected to be fined for breaching strict FIFA uniform rules, but instead were told their captains would be shown a yellow card.

“It was not about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable,” the German team said in a statement posted on his official Twitter account moments after kicking off in their shock 2-1 defeat. “It should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t. This is why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is like denying us a voice.

Germany have been among the most outspoken teams – and fanbases – on human rights issues in Qatar; banners criticizing the tiny Gulf emirate and FIFA have been a regular sight at league games in Germany this season. The country’s politicians also angered Qatar with fierce criticism in the days leading up to the start of the World Cup.

That furor likely increased on Wednesday. Before the players demonstrated on the pitch, Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, made her own statement in the seats reserved for FIFA’s most important guests. She arrived at the stadium in a pink suit, but by the time she’d taken her seat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, she’d removed the blazer to reveal the multi-coloured ‘One Love’ branded armband that the FIFA captain Germany, Manuel Neuer, and the others had prepared to carry. Faeser, who is not part of the German delegation, cannot receive a yellow card.

The armband decision clouded the early days of the tournament. FIFA’s attempts to focus on the pitch have been undermined by daily controversies over its ban on symbols supporting the LGBTQ community. Some fans have been baffled by overzealous security guards banning clothing and banners that were not intended to be a form of protest, including in one incident where a fan was banned from entering a stadium. with the flag of Pernambucoa Brazilian state.

On Wednesday, FIFA did not comment on Germany’s protest. But other officials have been much more vocal.

German officials are said to have studied their legal options and planned to file a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Danish FA chief executive Jakob Jensen has spoken of the very possibility of quitting FIFA, saying his organization had already decided not to endorse Infantino for re-election in March. The president is the only candidate.

“We’ve been discussing it in the Nordic region since August,” Jensen said of the possibility of Denmark leaving the organization. “I thought about it. I imagine there could be challenges if Denmark went on their own. But let’s see if we can’t talk about things.

“I have to think about how to restore trust in FIFA. We have to assess what happened and then we have to create a strategy, also with our Nordic colleagues.

FIFA’s silence on the issue since announcing a resolution with the teams has only increased speculation as to whether it or Qatari officials are setting the guidelines on what is allowed inside. of the stadium. Tricolor flags, bearing the words “Free Palestine”, for example, were visible in the Tunisian section of the game against Denmark on Tuesday, a day after FIFA cracked down on Iranian fans carrying T-shirts or banners criticizing their government .

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