Germany vs Japan: Why did German national team cover mouth to protest OneLove ban with team photo at Qatar World Cup

Hansi Flick’s team covered their mouths as they posed for their team photo as they protested FIFA’s ban on OneLove armband in 2022 World Cup, while Rewe have scrapped their sponsorship of the German national team. Here’s all you need to know on the situation.

Germany players pose with their hands covering their mouths as they line up for the team photos prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Germany players pose with their hands covering their mouths as they line up for the team photos prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

The German team covered their mouths while they posted for the customary pre-match team photo ahead of their Qatar 2022 World Cup opener against Japan in Group E in an apparent protest at football’s governing body.

World class stars such as Thomas Muller and İlkay Gündoğan aimed to show they “would not be silenced”, with the German national team stating their “stance is clear” when it came to their feelings on wearing the One Love armband, which aims to promote diversity and inclusion at the tournament in Qatar.

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It has been expected that several national sides competing at the tournament would see their captains don the armband at the competition in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community with same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships criminalised in Qatar, where the World Cup is being held.

However, Earlier in the week, those nations previously planning to wear a One Love armband at the World Cup were told they could be subject to sanctions – such as the player wearing the armband being booked before entering the field of play.

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And while we have not seen such acts of protest from other competing nations, the German national team appear to be the first to react to FIFA’s ruling.

They are reports the German FA are exploring possible legal action against FIFA for its decision, with the nation refusing to accept the decision and German sport’s website Bild reporting they are considering taking the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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German Federal Minister of the Interior and Community Nancy Faeser wears a One Love armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
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Why have German supermarket Rewe dropped Germany team sponsorship

The German supermarket chain Rewe has ditched its advertising campaign with the German Football Association after FIFA prohibited the wearing of 'OneLove' armbands.

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However, after it was confirmed captain Neuer would not be wearing the armband due to possible sanctions, the supermarket stated:

“We stand up for diversity — and football is also diversity. We live this position and we defend it. FIFA's scandalous attitude is absolutely unacceptable".

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Scottish commentator Derek Rae has also been discussing the apparent lack of interest in the tournament from his German colleagues, and Rewe’s decision.

On his official Twitter official, Rae posted: “Have been explaining to colleagues that in Germany anyway, this is not your normal World Cup. Huge concentration on the armband issue at the media conference earlier plus the Rewe story & TV figures well down on past World Cups so far.

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"When I left Köln a few weeks ago, there was not the usual buzz & many friends/pubs are boycotting it. I tweet this as always to help wider understanding of how Germany ticks. Rewe‘s decision earlier while widely applauded, is also about being in tune with public sentiment.

Why did the German team cover their mouths in team line up

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Ahead of their opening World Cup 2022 game against Japan, each member of the Die Mannschaft – led by captain Manuel Neuer – held their hand over their mouths.

The reason for the gesture was because the team felt they been denied a voice after FIFA claimed they, and several other nations, would be handed heavy sanctions if they choose to wear the OneLove armband in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

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German FA statement in full on One Love armband

In a post on their official Twitter page, they stated: "It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us.

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"Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position”.