Germany players cover mouths in ‘OneLove’ armband protest at World Cup

Germany players placed their hands over their mouths during a team photo Wednesday ahead of their opening World Cup match against Japan amid an ongoing battle against FIFA over the threat of sanctions for wearing a “OneLove” armband.

Earlier this week, FIFA threatened seven European team captains with sanctions, including yellow cards, if they wore the “OneLove” armband which symbolizes diversity and tolerance.

Nancy Faeser, the German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, wore the armband Wednesday as she sat next FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who went on a surreal tirade Saturday, stating in part: “Today I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel a migrant worker.”

The players of Germany pose with their hands covering their mouths in the team’s group picture before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan on Nov. 23, 2022.
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Faeser previously criticized FIFA, saying the threat of sanctions is unacceptable.

“This is not all right, how federations are being put under pressure,” Faeser said prior to Germany’s opening game. “In today’s times it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly stand for tolerance and against discrimination. It does not fit in our times and it is not appropriate towards people.”

In a statement released by the German Football Association, the organization noted, “Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser wears a One Love armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan on Nov. 23, 2022.
German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser wears a “OneLove” armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan on Nov. 23, 2022.
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German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (center) wearing a "OneLove" armband next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan on Nov. 23, 2022.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (center) wearing a “OneLove” armband next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan on Nov. 23, 2022.
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“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard. It wasn’t about making a political statement — 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 to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position,” the message read.

Although Germany got on the scoreboard first on Wednesday against Japan, they lost their opening match, 2-1.