The German national soccer team on Wednesday protested silently prior to their match against Japan at the 2022 World Cup, as controversy continues to brew around FIFA's hesitancy to support LGBTQ symbolism at the games.
Before kickoff, the starting 11 players of the German team posed for a picture in which they covered their mouths as a form of silent protest, NBC News reported. The move was made in defiance of host country Qatar, which has long been criticized for its poor record on human rights and treatment of LGBTQ people.
Germany was originally among seven European teams that planned to have their captains wear "OneLove" armbands that symbolized the acceptance of the LGBTQ community. However, the clubs backed down from this plan after FIFA threatened to penalize any teams that wore the armbands.
Angered by FIFA's decision, the German national team posted a message on Twitter after the photo was taken. "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," the team tweeted. "Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard."
"It wasn't about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable," the team added. "Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position."
Reuters also reported that German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore the armband in the stands during the game, while sitting next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.