As Germany prepared for their Group E opening clash against Japan on Wednesday in the Khalifa International Stadium, the German players lined up on the pitch for their team photo. They used the moment as a powerful gesture of protest.
The team all covered their mouths in response to FIFA's threats of sanctions over the "OneLove" armband. The gesture suggests that FIFA is attempting to silence the players and prevent them from engaging in human rights. The world soccer body threatened seven European teams with sanctions if they wore the "OneLove" armband, which symbolizes diversity and tolerance.
"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 German Football Association said in a statement. "Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard."
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"...That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position."
While homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, some feel that FIFA has exercised an unprecedented demonstration of power.
Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser was seen sporting the armband as she spoke with many FIFA officials.
World Cup 2022
Coverage of the 2022 World Cup
"This is not alright, how federations are being put under pressure," Faeser said during a visit to a German FA event in Doha before the game.
"In today's times, it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to openly stand for tolerance and against discrimination. It does not fit in our times and it is not appropriate towards people."
This didn't stop Germany from performing on the field. They closed out the first half of the game with a 1-0 lead against Japan. Ilkay Gundogan scored Germany's first goal after converting from a penalty spot after David Raum was brought down in the penalty area by Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda after 33 minutes of play.
Germany was very 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 lovely passing move by Serge Gnabry. Eventually the “goal” is chalked off by VAR and ruled out for offside.
Japan also had a few solid opportunities to put itself on the board in the first half. Japan had the ball in the net early in the contest, but it was eventually ruled out for being offside.
Japan would respond 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 a finish from Takuma Asano in the 83rd minute to give the Samurai Blue a 2-1 lead and the upset win of the day.
Now both Japan and Germany will turn their attention to the upcoming matches. Japan will face off against Costa Rica on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET, followed by Germany who will battle it out against Spain at 2 p.m. ET.