German national team accused of abandoning their LGBT solidarity pitch-side
After FIFA quashed German football players’ attempts to show LGBT+ solidarity in Qatar, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and supermarket chain REWE have urged the German Football Association (DFB) not to abandon plans to wear OneLove pride armbands.
Habeck condemns DFB pride armband decision
On Sunday the German football national team, and a group of six further European teams playing in the Qatar World Cup, announced that their captains would no longer be wearing armbands during matches to show solidarity with LGBT+ causes.
The group of teams say they informed FIFA months in advance about their plan to wear the OneLove armbands. But the international football organisation only recently revealed that they would issue players with an automatic yellow card if they wear the armbands during matches. Though the OneLove campaign is not explicitly political, it intends to “promote inclusivity” while the World Cup takes place in a country where homosexuality is illegal.
Just hours before their first match kicks off, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has condemned the German national football team for ditching their protest plans.
Speaking on a ZDF broadcast, Habeck said that he was curious as to what a referee would do if the players turned up wearing the armbands in a “moderate protest”. The Greens politician also pointed out what the protest could ignite. “[After football player Colin Kaepernick took the knee in protest against US police brutality] there were protests against racism in sport,” Habeck said. “There is no more apolitical sport.”
During the lead up to the 2022 World Cup many local clubs in Germany protested FIFA corruption, working conditions and human rights in Qatar. It was also revealed that the majority of Germans wanted to boycott the competition.
FIFA threatens German players with yellow cards
The teams involved in the campaign, which also included Belgium, England, the Netherlands and Switzerland, released a group statement ahead of Monday's match between England and Iran. Defending the group’s decision, the statement said, “As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings.”
The statement added that teams were prepared to pay fines for breaching FIFA kit rules, but would not “put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
FIFA has threatened captains who wear the OneLove pride armband with an automatic yellow card, a move which the group’s statement called “an unprecedented event in the history of the World Cup.”
"Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure," the statement added. "No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women's rights, workers' rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup."
REWE supermarket ends DFB sponsorship deal
Following the DFB announcement to abandon the OneLove armbands, the German supermarket chain REWE has ended its sponsorship deal with the DFB. The chief executive of REWE, Lionel Souque, said, “We stand for diversity – and football is diversity too. We live this attitude and we defend this attitude – even against possible resistance. The scandalous attitude of FIFA is for me absolutely unacceptable as a chief executive of a diverse company and as a football fan.”
So far, other DFB sponsors such as Adidas and Deutsche Telekom have not discontinued their deals with the sporting organisation. In a statement Adidas said “We will not end the partnership. We are convinced that sports must be open to everyone.”
Germany are set to play against Japan on Wednesday afternoon in their first Qatar World Cup match.