An England fans’ group have commended Germany’s protest against FIFA over the OneLove anti-discrimination armband.
The German team covered their mouths for the team photo before their opening World Cup match against Japan on Wednesday, to highlight they feel silenced by the game’s global governing body.
Seven European nations competing at the World Cup – including Germany, England and Wales – were due to wear the armbands as part of a year-long campaign, a move seen as especially significant in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.
It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us.
Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) November 23, 2022
However, the threat of sporting sanctions from FIFA – starting with yellow cards for the captains wearing the armbands – forced the OneLove group to drop its plans on Monday.
Ashley Brown, from the Football Supporters’ Association’s England Fans’ Embassy, welcomed the German protest and believes England’s players will have taken note.
“For all its corporate messaging around diversity, and everyone being welcome, FIFA capitulated to intolerance when it banned players from wearing the One Love armband,” Brown said.
“Such was FIFA’s timing, falling on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, that players had little time to react and, understandably, by that stage were in game mode.
“Germany obviously had a little more time to think about how they would make their statement and they’re to be commended for making such an impactful and meaningful gesture.
“We’re sure that action hasn’t gone without notice in the England squad, many of the players have a track record in speaking up on social issues, and we’re certain they’d have approved.”
The Football Association declined to comment on Wednesday about whether England’s players would stage a similar protest. Two other members of the OneLove group, Belgium and Switzerland, did not make any special gestures before their games against Canada on Wednesday and Cameroon on Thursday respectively.
Denmark’s assistant coach Morten Wieghorst felt Germany’s move was a “good demonstration” but added: “If you single it out, well done by Germany. Perhaps it would be even stronger if there was a common statement at some point.”
The PA news agency understands Germany will face no disciplinary action from FIFA under Article 11 of the code. It states anyone “using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature” may be sanctioned.
The OneLove group is understood to be considering legal options, but the German football federation confirmed that as of Thursday morning no appeal had been lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, Noel Mooney, told ITV on Wednesday he was “furious” with how FIFA had conducted itself over the armband row.
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