Germany will face no disciplinary action after Hansi Flick’s team covered their mouths during their team photo against Japan in protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar. The 2014 world champions were one of seven nations set to wear the armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community before they were told that captain Manuel Neuer could face a one-match ban if he donned the colourful symbol of inclusion.
FIFA’s decision to ban the armband has been fiercely scrutinised and the timing of the call, which came just hours before England’s World Cup opener against Iran on Monday, has left managers and players at the tournament scratching their heads in frustration.
Initially, it had been suggested that captains could be booked for the political gesture but further details emerged confirming the players were actually threatened with bans – backing countries into a corner.
Shortly after Germany’s gesture, the German Football Association issued the following statement: “With our captain’s armband, we wanted to set an example for values that we live in the national team: Diversity and mutual respect. Being loud together with other nations.”
“Human rights are not negotiable,” the statement added, and “denying us the armband is like denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
Six of Germany’s players – including Neuer – wore rainbow laces during their Group E opener, which ended in a sickening 2-1 defeat to Japan.
Germany were ahead in the first half when Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan successfully dispatched a penalty.
But things would take a turn for the worse in the second half when Japan made several changes that would flip the match on its head.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano both netted in an explosive second-half turnaround for the Asian underdogs.
Flick’s side had no response and did not look like equalising as they went in search of a leveller.
Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu also turned in a brilliant display at the back after coming on at half-time.
Germany now face the prospect of elimination after just one match as they look to turn things around when they face Spain this weekend.
Luis Enrique’s side look like one of the strongest at the tournament having thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening match in Doha.