Germany players covered their mouths during their team photo prior to their opening World Cup group stage match vs. Japan in protest against FIFA’s ban against using the OneLove armband.
Captain Manuel Neuer, along with the captains of nine other UEFA nations, were warned one day into the tournament that they would be booked should they decide to wear the armband instead of FIFA’s standardised one.
The decision has been heavily criticised by players, coaches and fans alike. England captain Harry Kane revealed he was intent on wearing the armband but the decision was taken out of his hands, while Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen gave a chilling press conference suggesting that players feel like they are being manipulated.
Germany manager Hansi Flick revealed ahead of his side’s clash with Japan that an alternative form of protest was planned, with his starting XI posing for their team picture with their hands covering their mouths.
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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,” the German national team said on Twitter.
“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.”
It was reported earlier in the week that the German FA were considering suing FIFA for pulling the rug from under them regarding the armband debacle.
Denmark’s FA have since confirmed they and other UEFA nations could leave FIFA in protest against this week’s events.