Before the kick-off of their first World Cup group game against Japan, the German national team set an example in a dispute with the world football association Fifa. Captain Manuel Neuer, as announced, refrained from wearing the “One Love” bandage after the threats from Fifa. Instead, on Wednesday at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al-Rajjan, he wore the “No Discrimination” armband prescribed by Fifa, which is intended to stand against discrimination of any kind. Nevertheless, the team used the time between the playing of the national anthem and the kick-off for clear symbolism.
After the players lined up for the team photo, they collectively covered their mouths with their right hands. A protest against the actions of the world association and indirectly also World Cup hosts Qatar. Fifa President Gianni Infantino was an eyewitness to the German protest. The Swiss was one of the guests of honor in the stadium – two days after his organization escalated the dispute over the “One Love” captain’s armband.
The bandage is considered a sign of freedom, tolerance and equality and was briefly banned by Fifa on Monday. Unlike the English, Denmark and Dutch, who then waived the announced assignment, the DFB team at least made a public statement.
“Fifa works with intimidation and pressure, you have to state that first,” said DFB President Bernd Neuendorf on ARD. “I stand by everything I’ve said about human rights. We are in opposition to Fifa, it is very important that this is made clear here. We have to think about what conclusions we can draw from this.”
In the debate a few hours before the start of the German World Cup, DFB director Oliver Bierhoff had asked for more understanding from home for the players. “Ultimately, the players get criticism again and again. Of course, that hurts in one place or another because you think: When will it be enough and when can I concentrate on the World Cup,” Bierhoff said on Wednesday on “ARD”.
The many critical reactions from Germany would keep the players very busy, the 54-year-old reported. After all, the issue was “already taken very seriously a year ago,” stressed Bierhoff. Before the World Cup in Qatar, there were talks with human rights organizations and those affected, a symposium was also held and one million euros was donated to help Nepal. The fact that Fifa stopped the action for a good cause was “a heavy blow”.