Following Iran’s rejection to sing the national anthem ahead of their World Cup match against England, German players have initiated their protest over the “OneLove” armband by putting their palms over their mouths during a team photo ahead of their game against Japan.

All of Germany’s players made the hand signal in front of countless of photojournalists on the pitch before the start of a World Cup Group E match on Wednesday at the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar.

While at the stadium, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wore a ‘One Love’ armband and sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

The German football federation is probing whether FIFA can legally threaten to sanction athletes for displaying the OneLove armband during the World Cup in Qatar. The armband was to be worn by the team captains of seven European countries to encourage multiculturalism and inclusivity in sports. 

However, the plans were scrapped after FIFA threatened to sack players.

“Fifa has forbidden us from using a symbol of diversity and human rights,” said DFB media director Steffen Simon. “They combined this with massive threats of sporting sanctions without specifying them. The DFB is checking whether this action by Fifa was legal.” he continued. 

Germany, along with England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, and Switzerland, were among the teams that had intended to wear the armband.

The DFB has consulted the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) about the matter, according to Simon, and hopes captain Manuel Neuer will be able to don the OneLove armband for his team’s second Group E game against Spain which is scheduled on November 27, 2022. 

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Simon earlier noted that FIFA was threatening the seven nations with “extreme blackmail.” Rewe, a German supermarket chain, has cancelled its promotional contract with the DFB in an effort to disassociate itself from FIFA. 

FIFA has pushed forward its own ‘No Discrimination’ campaign, which was supposed to begin in the quarter-finals. Captains will now be allowed to wear a No Discrimination wristband throughout the tournament.

The captains of ten European nations – England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands – were announced in September to wear a OneLove armband at Nations League games and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Norway and Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup, and France captain Hugo Lloris stated that he wasn’t going to wear the armband in order to “show respect” to Qatar.

Also Read: Germany players cover mouths at World Cup in FIFA protest

Before Euro 2020, the Netherlands launched the OneLove initiative to encourage equality and inclusion and to send a message against discriminatory practices.

Same-sex relationships and their promotion are illegal in Qatar since they are considered as gravely sinful under Islamic Sharia law.