World Cup: Germany players cover their mouths in protest at ‘One Love’ armband ban ahead of Japan game

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Germany players covered their mouths in protest for a pre-match team photo ahead of their opening World Cup game against Japan after the ‘One Love’ rainbow armband was banned by FIFA.

Germany and six other nations, including England and Wales, planned to wear the rainbow armband to express solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community to show that football is for everyone.

But FIFA had threatened to sanction national teams should they make any political statements during the World Cup in Qatar.

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In response to the threat ahead of Germany’s opening World Cup match against Japan, Die Mannschaft players warmed up in training shirts with rainbow-coloured sleeves and covered their mouths for the team photo.

After the picture was taken, the Germany national team put out a message on social media which said: “Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”

The Germany FA are taking legal steps against world football’s governing body and the decision could be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

DFB spokesman Steffen Simon said: “FIFA has banned us from showing a symbol of diversity and human rights.

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

Germany boss Hansi Flick told reporters on Tuesday: “The reason for the armband was that the team wanted to make a point. FIFA put a stop to it and threatened punishments if it was on display. For those countries that played yesterday, it was extremely short notice.

“The armband is a symbol for diversity and values which we represent and live by.

“We treat each other with a great deal of respect and esteem, but as far as those values are concerned, there are parties who don’t see it that way.

“Yellow cards wouldn’t have been a problem, but the manner in which it was left open and threatened so shortly before the game put the likes of England and the Netherlands in a difficult position.

“There wasn’t any time to react to it; therefore those countries said that we will remove that pressure from the players’ shoulders. I think it’s a real shame that you aren’t allowed to stand up for human rights any more.”

Roy Keane and Ian Wright believe that players at the World Cup should go ahead with their plans to wear the One Love armband despite threats of punishment.

And the ITV pundits spoke out again during Germany’s match with Japan, with Keane suggesting the players had not been silenced.

“I think they can do a lot more,” Keane said.

“They’ve been silenced, by who? Use their voice, wear the armband. It’s about leadership, it’s about action. It’s a gesture, it’s a start, and they can do more.”

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