Having been banned from wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband, the German players decided to pose for their team photo with hands over their mouths.
It read: “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. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.
“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. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
A powerful statement.
However, when the match kicked off Germany fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat at the hands of Japan.
Ilkay Gundogan put Hansi Flick’s side ahead in the first half but late goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano gave Japan a shock victory.
Germany now face a tough task to even qualify from Group E after Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0. Germany play Spain in their next match.
Hazard’s response to Germany’s gesture
Later in the day on Thursday, Belgium got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Canada.
And after the match, Hazard had a few strong words for Germany.
“Germany’s gesture?” Hazard said. “They would’ve done better if they didn’t do it and tried to win. We’re here to play football, I’m not here to convey a political message.”
Brutal stuff from Hazard.
And when asked about his decision not to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband, the Belgium skipper admitted he wasn’t comfortable talking about the situation.
“I’m not comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football,” he added. “We were banned… I didn’t want to start the match with a yellow card, it would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament. To do it again, maybe I will postpone it.”
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