“Human rights are non-negotiable”: Germany explain World Cup team photo protest

Germany protest
(Image credit: Getty)

The German FA has explained why their players covered their mouths ahead of their opening World Cup game against Japan, saying: “Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice”.

Before kick-off in Wednesday’s Group E clash, every Germany player posed for the team photo with their right hand covering their mouth.

It came on the back of the controversy around FIFA’s decision to threaten punishments (opens in new tab) to the European teams, including Germany, planning to wear a ‘One Love’ armband in Qatar.

The England player Harry Kane during the match Italy-England at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Milan (Italy), September 23rd, 2022

Harry Kane wears the One Love band against Italy in the Nations League in September.  (Image credit: Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard,” read a post on the Germany national team Twitter account. 

“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”.

The move comes after the German FA (DFB) said they were looking at (opens in new tab) whether FIFA’s move to stop them from wearing the One Love armband was legal.

“FIFA has banned us from showing a symbol of diversity and human rights,” Steffen Simon, a DFB Spokesman, said.

“They combined this ban with massive threats of sporting sanctions without specifying them. The DFB is checking whether this action by FIFA was legal.”

The One Love campaign was abandoned earlier in the week after FIFA threatened showing yellow cards to any captain sporting the armband.

A joint statement from the countries who intended to wear the armbands said: ”We can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in World Cup games.”

The campaign was launched in the first place to “promote inclusion and send a message against discrimination of any kind”. 

England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales joined forces for the campaign.

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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.