World Cup

For a World Cup photo, Germany players cover their mouths in protest.

Prior to their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday, Germany’s players reportedly protested FIFA’s decision to forbid rainbow-themed armbands by covering their mouths during the team photo.

The anti-discrimination armbands were going to be worn by the captains of seven European teams as part of a diversity campaign during the tournament in Qatar, but they decided against it due to the threat of punishment from the organization that oversees world football.

The FAs of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland released a statement in which they expressed frustration with FIFA’s decision, which they viewed as unprecedented.

The statement reads: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can 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 FIFA World Cup games. We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

The UEFA Working Group suggested the armband with a “heart containing colors representative of all backgrounds” in support of inclusion and diversity.

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