As Germany prepared for their Group E opener against Japan on Wednesday at the Khalifa International Stadium, the German players lined the pitch for their team photo. They used the moment as a powerful gesture of protest.
The team covered their mouths in response to FIFA sanctions threats over the “OneLove” armband. The gesture suggests that FIFA is trying to silence the players and prevent them from committing to human rights. The world football body has threatened seven European teams with sanctions if they wear the “OneLove” armband, which symbolizes diversity and tolerance.
“We wanted to use our captain’s armband to uphold the values we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect,” said the German Football Association. in a report. “Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.”
“…That’s why this message is so important to us. To deny us the armband is to deny us a voice. We maintain our position.”
While homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, some believe that FIFA has wielded an unprecedented display of power.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser was seen sporting the armband as she spoke to numerous FIFA officials.
“It’s not good, the pressure on the federations,” Faeser said while visiting a German FA event in Doha ahead of the game.
“At present, it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly defend tolerance and against discrimination. It does not correspond to our times and it is not appropriate towards people.”
That didn’t stop Germany from performing on the pitch. They closed the first half of the match with a 1-0 lead against Japan. Ilkay Gundogan scored Germany’s first goal after converting from the penalty spot after David Raum was knocked down in the penalty area by Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda after 33 minutes.
Germany were close to extending their lead to 2-0 before the end of the first half. Kai Havertz put the ball in the net at the end of a fine pass from Serge Gnabry. Eventually the ‘goal’ is scored by VAR and ruled out for offside.
Japan also had a few good chances to get on the board in the first half. Japan had the ball in the net at the start of the game, but it was eventually ruled out for offside.
Japan would react in a major way in the second half by scoring two quick goals. First with an equalizer in the 75th minute by Ritsu Doan.
Followed by an 83rd minute finish from Takuma Asano to give the Samurai Blue a 2-1 lead and the upset victory of the day.
Now, Japan and Germany will look to the upcoming games. Japan takes on Costa Rica on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, followed by Germany taking on Spain at 2 p.m. ET.