German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore the rainbow colored armband when she watched Germany play against Japan.
German players covered their mouths during a team photo in front of them World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday in protest of FIFA’s threat to penalize players for wearing the “OneLove” bracelet.
The gesture, which took place in front of dozens of photographers, came after the FIFA World Cup threatened to book players for wearing the rainbow-colored armbands.
The Dutch football association KNVB said on Wednesday that the seven countries – the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, England and Wales – are collectively considering their legal options.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore the “OneLove” armband alongside FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the game at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
“In the current times it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly stand up for tolerance and against discrimination. It doesn’t suit our time and it doesn’t suit people,” Faeser said while visiting a German Football Association event in Doha before the match.
Fans should also be able to “openly display” pro-LGBTQ symbols, Faeser told reporters, adding that supporters should “decide for themselves” whether to wear them.
The criminalization of same-sex relationships in Qatar, the tournament’s host country, has been a long-running controversy in the run-up to the World Cup.
Qatar has repeatedly stated that everyone is welcome to attend the tournament. The government has also accused critics of “double standards” and participating in a “unprecedented campaign” unlike any other host country.
Moments after the team photo, the German Football Association tweeted it with the message: “It was not about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable.
“Denying us the bracelet is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
It was not about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should go without saying, but it still isn’t. That’s why this message is so important to us.
Denying us the bracelet is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position. pic.twitter.com/tiQKuE4XV7
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) November 23, 2022
German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin earlier today that FIFA’s decision to ban captains from wearing the armbands was “very unfortunate”.
“The rights of LGBTQ people are non-negotiable,” Hebestreit told a news conference.
Security personnel at the World Cup have ordered spectators to remove garments with rainbow logos.
Belgian player Jan Vertonghen underscored tensions during the tournament over the issue, saying on Tuesday he was “afraid” to talk about human rights.
Vertonghen, on the eve of Belgium’s opening match against Canada later on Wednesday, said he was not feeling comfortable.
“I’m afraid if I say something about this, I may not be able to play tomorrow,” said the defender.
“It’s an experience I’ve never felt in football before. I feel controlled. I’m afraid to even say anything about this.
“We just say normal things about racism and discrimination and if you can’t even say things about it, that says it all.
“I want to appear on the field tomorrow, so I will leave it at that.”