German players cover their mouths at FIFA protest: 'Human rights are non-negotiable'

German players cover their mouths at FIFA protest: ‘Human rights are non-negotiable’

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — German players covered their mouths for their team photo before the first World Cup match over FIFA’s plans to wear armbands to protest discrimination in host country Qatar. Ban in response.

The team stood in traditional formation before Wednesday’s game against Japan, with each of the 11 players covering their mouths with their right hands.

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It was a response to FIFA’s warning to seven European federations, including Germany, that players would be fined if they wore colorful “One Love” armbands as a symbol of inclusion and diversity. Seven team captains planned to wear armbands.

Qatar is under scrutiny for its human rights record and criminal laws on homosexuality.

Football’s governing body issued the warning on Monday just hours before the first teams played with their captain wearing the armband. FIFA said the players will be shown an immediate yellow card.

German coach Hans Flick and the president of the football federation, Bernd Neuendorf, criticized FIFA’s decision.

Neuendorf called the warning “another low blow” by FIFA. The governing body did not comment on Wednesday’s gesture by the Germans.

German Interior Minister Nancy Feiser, who is also in charge of sports, wore a ‘One Love’ armband at the Germany-Japan match stoppage. Facer tweeted a photo of himself wearing it with the hashtag #OneLove.

News agency DPA reported that Feiser had an armband under the pink blazer she took off during the first half.

Feser sat next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino during the match.

Earlier, Fesser criticized Qatar for forcing a German fan to remove a rainbow armband and headband during another match.

“This does not match my understanding of the security guarantees that have been given to me by the (Qatar) interior minister,” Fiser said. “Security should apply to all people. I am very disappointed about this.”

The rainbow flag is widely used as a symbol of tolerance towards sexual diversity.

“Such symbols should be clearly displayed,” Feser said.

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