PARIS – France’s sports minister has encouraged his country’s World Cup team to make a symbolic gesture in support of human rights, after FIFA banned “one love” armbands.
“Is there still a way that our French team can continue to show its commitment to human rights? The answer is yes,” Amelie Odia-Castra told the French TV channel Public Senate. “The Germans showed it.”
Germany’s players cover their mouths for a team photo ahead of their World Cup opener on Wednesday. The gesture was a response to FIFA’s plans to make the seven European teams wear armbands effective, which was seen as a rebuke to host country Qatar and its human rights record.
French players will be “free to express themselves” in the coming weeks, Odia Castro said. “They also share these values … and it’s important that they represent them.”
The French team released a statement before flying to Qatar, saying that the players supported the work of non-governmental organizations to protect human rights and that all players and staff had made a collective contribution to them.
“The player has already made a statement about how we feel,” France midfielder Mathieu Guinduzi said in Qatar on Thursday. “We are not indifferent to this situation. But we are here to play football and enjoy ourselves on the field.”
Forward Marcus Thuram said he respects what the Germans have done.
“As Matteo said we have done something (with the donation)”, Torme said. “If they think they’ve defended a good cause, that’s a good thing.”
Defending champions France beat Australia 4-1 in their World Cup opener on Tuesday. The team will play their next Group D match against Denmark on Saturday.