German players put their hands over their mouths during their pre-match photoshoot and wore rainbow stripes on their shirts and boots to warm up ahead of Wednesday’s game with Japan, the most spectacular protest yet against Japan. FIFA’s efforts to prevent World Cup teams from protesting Qatar’s poor human rights record.
Germany was one of seven European teams that planned to have their captain wear the OneLove armband to promote tolerance, diversity and LGBT rights in Qatar, where same-sex relations are prohibited. 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 would end the matter, he was proven wrong.
Germany’s gestures were just part of a rapidly escalating campaign against Infantino’s decree. German Interior Minister Nancy Wesser, who was sitting next to Infantino at Wednesday’s game, wore the prominently offending captaincy. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken weighed in on the controversy during his recent visit to Qatar.
Speaking at a press conference, Blinken said that “any restrictions on freedom of expression” were “always concerning” to the United States. “It’s especially so when it’s an expression of diversity and inclusion,” Blinken continued. “And in my estimation, at least, no one on the football field should be forced to choose between upholding these values and playing for their team.”
After Germany lost 2-1, German coach Hansi Flick said his team had sent “a message…. that FIFA is silencing us”. The German national team has a long record of defending human rights.
The German Football Association also supported its players and published a Strong statement on Twitter Shortly after kick-off against Japan.
“With the captain’s armband, we wanted to send a signal for the values we live by in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. We are out loud with other nations.” It is not a political message: human rights are not negotiable. It should be clear. Unfortunately it is still the case. That’s why this message is so important to us. Depriving us of the armband is like gagging our mouths. Our position stands.”
According to Bild newspaperThe German Football Association is considering a legal appeal against FIFA’s decision.
“FIFA has banned us from putting a label on diversity and human rights. It has combined this with massive threats of unspecified sporting sanctions,” said Steffen Simon, a DFB spokesman. [federation] It checks whether this action by FIFA is legal.”
The scourge of injury to France and Senegal
France, who came to Qatar missing five players through injury, lost another player Wednesday when coach Didier Deschamps issued a statement saying that Lucas Hernandez, the starting left-back for the World Cup winners four years ago, would miss the rest of this tournament yet. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first eight minutes of Tuesday’s win over Australia.
Last week’s Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was ruled out of the World Cup after suffering an injury in training.
Senegal also has injury problems. Sadio Mane, African Footballer of the Year, will likely miss Senegal without midfielder Cheikhou Kouyaté for Friday’s match with Qatar due to a right hamstring injury. Kouyaté, a central midfielder for Senegal, was taken off on a stretcher in the second half of his team’s opening tournament loss to the Netherlands.
Kouyaté’s 84 caps are his fifth ever cap for Senegal.
Ticket problems caught
Issues with the FIFA Tickets mobile app continue to plague fans who have been unable to retrieve the digital passes needed to enter the stadium.
On Tuesday, an Associated Press reporter at the South Stadium watched a FIFA employee write replacement tickets with pen and paper in an effort to get people to their seats. Other fans were admitted after security workers were shown emails confirming ticket purchases.
Ticket problems plagued many venues, prompting organizers to set up ticket offices. All tickets for the World Cup in Qatar were distributed via the FIFA Mobile App. The glitch caused hundreds of fans to miss the start of the Iran-England match on Monday.