German players protest “freedom of expression” at the World Cup

(CNN) — Germany national team players put their hands over their mouths during a team photo ahead of their World Cup Group E match against Japan, as the dispute continued over the threat of FIFA sanctions over the bracelet “OneLove”.

All of Germany’s players took part in the gesture in front of dozens of photographers on the pitch before kick-off at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, after FIFA threatened seven European teams with sanctions if they wore the armband symbolizing the diversity and tolerance.

This Wednesday, the German Football Federation (DFB) published a series of tweets in which it indicates that FIFA prevented them from using their voice to promote human rights at the World Cup.

“Denying us the bracelet is the same as denying us the voice. We stand by our position,” the DFB said in a tweet with an image of the German players covering their mouths with their hands.

“This was not about making a political statement: human rights are non-negotiable…That’s why this message is so important to us.”

“We wanted to wear our captain’s armband to uphold the values ​​we have in the Germany team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard,” the German team said on social media.

CNN has contacted FIFA for comment.

OneLove Bracelets

England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales were ready to participate in the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and oppose discrimination.

The associations of those countries said in a statement on Monday that the bracelet, which features a heart striped in different colors to represent all heritages, origins, genders and sexual identities, will not be worn in Qatar.

“FIFA has made it very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the pitch,” the joint statement read.

“As national associations, we cannot put our players in a position where they may face sporting sanctions, including reservations, which is why we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup matches. ”, the statement added.