The captains of at least seven World Cup teams planned to wear rainbow armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights during matches in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, before FIFA threatened sanctions. Told the captains would receive yellow cards for the infraction or be removed from the field, per USA Today, the teams of England, Wales, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany put out a joint statement criticizing FIFA's decision to ban the OneLove armbands but saying they'd abandon the plan nonetheless. England's Harry Kane wore a FIFA-approved armband reading "No Discrimination" on Monday. Germany, it turns out, had another idea.
Ahead of their match against Japan on Wednesday, German players wore rainbow stripes on their warm-upshirts and shoes, per the Guardian. Then they posed for a photo with their hands covering their mouths. "Human rights are non-negotiable," the German Football Association said in a statement soon after the whistle. "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," it continued. "Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position." No yellow cards were handed out, though a referee did examine German captain Manuel Neuer's approved armband, which was obscured by his shirt.
In a further message to FIFA, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore the OneLove armband to promote tolerance, diversity, and LGBTQ+ rights as she took in the match, seated next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who'd defended Qatar's human rights record on Saturday. The AP notes it's unclear "what, if any, influence Qatar's autocratic government had on the armband decision," which teams are now looking to overturn. However, Qatar's sudden decision to ban beer from stadiums seemed out of FIFA's control. Though Germany made a splash, its team didn't get the outcome it wanted Wednesday. Japan scored two late goals to overpower the Germans, among the favorites for the cup, per NBC News. (Read more 2022 World Cup stories.)