Gianni Infantino was presented with the “One Love” captain’s armband live and in color. “Then he also asked me about the bandage, whether that’s the bandage, then I said to him: ‘And it’s not as bad as you think, is it?’ German World Cup game in Qatar the evening before in the Chalifa Stadium. A photo was already circulating on social media that suggested that the FIFA President found the bandage banned by his world football association anything but bad.
The Swiss did not comment on the picture on Thursday with him smiling next to Faeser and pointing to the multicolored bandage. FIFA had banned the German Football Association and six other European nations from wearing the diversity armband on the field and threatened severe sporting sanctions. Even the European Parliament condemned this in a resolution on Thursday. It was also reiterated that Parliament’s view that corruption within FIFA is widespread, systemic and ingrained remains.
In particular, MEPs called on footballing nations in the EU, such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain, to put pressure on the European association UEFA and FIFA. The latter must work for fundamental reforms, including democratic and transparent procedures for awarding championships. Violations of fundamental and human rights, in particular systematic gender-specific violence, should be a binding exclusion criterion.
Faeser will not have gone that far in a direct conversation. Referring to the “One Love” armband, she told Infantino “that I see FIFA’s decision as a big mistake,” said Faeser, who was sitting next to Infantino after a Qatar government official failed to appear in the stands. It is unbelievable what kind of pressure was put on the football associations of the participating countries so that this symbol of diversity is not worn on the pitch.
Before the kick-off, the German internationals made a gesture with their hand in front of their mouth, which received worldwide attention and which FIFA does not – or cannot – sanction. The professionals protested in their own way, “and I expressed my protest by wearing the “One Love” bandage,” said the minister responsible for sport.
The DFB gesture was thought up by the players themselves, as the pros said after the bitter 2-1 draw against Japan. “I was at the team hotel the evening before the game and spoke to Manuel Neuer. He informed me about the action, what the players had considered. I advised against it,” said DFB President Bernd Neuendorf in the ARD “Morgenmagazin”. “I thought it was a very good move.” The team once again made it clear that the attempt by world governing body FIFA to silence the DFB with the ban only worked to a limited extent.
Meanwhile, DFB Vice-President Steffen Schneekloth defended the DFB’s decision to comply with the FIFA ban. “Association-political issues and disputes must not be carried out on the backs of the athletes,” said the president of the second division club Holstein Kiel the “Kieler Nachrichten”. “For every footballer who takes part in a World Cup, it is probably the biggest sporting event of his career. That has to be respected.”
FIFA’s announcement of sanctions, however, seemed “arbitrary, laird-like and non-transparent, like apparently many processes within FIFA,” said the lawyer. Schneekloth sees the DFB and the other Western European associations as partly to blame for the muddled situation. “I think that the problem was not fully recognized in advance and it was perhaps naïve for the football governing bodies to think that FIFA would not react to the announcement that they would wear the One Love armband.”