Germany’s players cover their mouths before the game against Japan © Ebrahim Noroozi/AP
Germany’s footballers covered their mouths for their team photo ahead of their World Cup match against Japan in what appeared to be a protest at Fifa’s decision to ban the wearing of ‘One Love’ armbands as a symbol of diversity.
The federal government also expressed disappointment with Fifa’s decision, saying the rights of the LGBT+ community were “non-negotiable”.
Before the game, each of the 11 German players was photographed covering their mouths with their right hands.
The captains of teams from seven European countries had announced they would wear the rainbow-themed armbands at their matches in Qatar, a country where homosexuality is illegal.
But Fifa, football’s world governing body, warned the seven European federations, including Germany, that players would receive yellow cards for wearing unauthorized armbands. The idea was then discarded.
Bernd Neuendorf, President of the German Football Association, called the warning “another low blow” to Fifa.
Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, who is also responsible for sport, wore a “One Love” armband as she watched the game from the stands. Faeser tweeted a photo of himself wearing the bracelet with the hashtag #OneLove.
Steffen Hebestreit, spokesman for the federal government, said football should “be free to choose its own, autonomous means and to stand up for values such as tolerance and diversity”.
“For a government that works against hostility towards the queer community and is committed to the acceptance and protection of sexual diversity, the rights of LGBTIQ people are non-negotiable,” he said.
Germany lost the game 2-1, a shock result against a team 13 places lower in the Fifa rankings.