German fans had waited four years for their team to make a statement at the Qatar World Cup, but they weren’t necessarily thinking of the one Hansi Flick’s side made in their opening match.
While the national team failed to banish the specter of Russia 2018, where Germany’s World Cup campaign collapsed in Kazan, the team at least made sure to solve a much bigger problem. urgent here.
Four and a half years after a 2-0 loss to South Korea, Germany’s abysmal world title defense ended in the group stage – and in shame – the four-time champions managed to restore their pride before to kick a ball. against Japan; which was just as well, considering their kicking the ball offered little to celebrate.
Queuing for their pre-match photo ahead of that 2-1 loss to Japan, all the German players covered their mouths, making clear their frustration at Fifa’s attempts to silence political dissections of this Cup of the world. Prior to the gesture, the Flick players had sported rainbow sleeves over their training tops during the warm-up for this first Group E encounter, while – in the stands – the German Federal Minister for Home and Community Nancy Faeser wore the OneLove armband that Fifa so adamantly tried to erase from existence.
Seven World Cup teams had planned for their captains to sport the rainbow-colored OneLove band throughout this controversial edition of the World Championship, showing their protest against anti-LGBTQ laws and attitudes + in the host country, Qatar, as well as the alleged state. Abuse of human rights; only for Fifa to threaten sporting punishment, i.e. yellow cards, if these players did not wear the governing body’s own alternative squad instead.
With this suggestion of punishment on the eve of England’s opener against Iran, the Three Lions timidly withdrew. Gareth Southgate captain Harry Kane expressed his frustration but eventually wore the Fifa armband.
The episode cast a daunting shadow over England’s brilliant performance on the pitch, a 6-2 demolition of Iran. England, chasing their first men’s trophy since 1966, had made a statement, but not where it counted.
On the other hand, Germany’s 2-1 loss to Japan could have marked a worrying start in their attempt to der fünfte Stern – a fifth star on their shirts – but they took a step forward where it counted. England put pressure on their Group B rivals, but Germany started to ramp up as far as Fifa was concerned.
They could have done more – Germany goal captain Manuel Neuer also wore the Fifa armband – something noted by the German outlet Imagewho judged the gesture of the team “zu wenig” – “too little”.
However, their suggestive statement was accompanied by a literal statement from the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (German FA), which also hinted that they might take legal action against Fifa.
“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to uphold the values we hold within the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect,” read the statement from the German FA on Wednesday. “Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.
“It was not about making a political statement – human rights are not negotiable. This should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t. This is why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is like denying us a voice. We maintain our position.
More than that, Germany started to rise. Others may yet follow.