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

The Netherlands are not expected to emulate Germany with their World Cup protest

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Netherlands are not expected to follow Germany’s lead by pointing out protests over host nation Qatar’s human rights record ahead of Friday’s World Cup match against Ecuador.

Germany’s players covered their mouths for a team photo before their match against Japan on Wednesday to protest FIFA’s ban on “One Love” armbands. Seven European teams, including the Netherlands and Germany, planned to wear the kit in a move seen as retaliation against Qatar.

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Qatar has been criticized for its anti-gay laws as well as its treatment of migrant workers needed to build stadiums, metro lines, roads and hotels.

Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries said the players will not do anything on the field on Friday because they feel they have done enough after meeting directly with some migrant workers.

“No, no. We took a lot of care, like the coach said. We got migrant workers and it was a great (time) for them and for us,” Dumfries said Thursday through a translator. “In the last two weeks we have talked a lot about human rights. We have said what we need to say, and from now on we have to focus on football.

The exact number of migrant workers who died or were injured after Qatar was chosen by FIFA to host the World Cup in December 2010 working on projects in extreme heat is unclear. The exact information is not confirmed or published by the authorities.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said that the Dutch team will not take any further action.

“Because we stood completely behind all the political issues (last Thursday) when we invited the refugees and we have that goal,” Van Gaal said through an interpreter. “It’s all about human rights (so far) and maybe rightly and maybe not rightly. But I think that’s enough.”

Germany’s gesture on Wednesday came in response to FIFA’s warning to seven European federations that players could be fined if they wear the colorful “One Love” armbands, which are seen as a symbol of inclusion and diversity.

Van Gaal was asked if he thought the German team would be affected by their political gestures on the pitch. The four-time World Cup champions defeated Japan 2-1 in their first match.

“That’s the question. That’s the question,” Van Gaal said. “I don’t want to take that risk. We’re here to become world champions.”

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