MASSIVE THREATS

Germany question Fifa sanction in OneLove armband row

Simon had previously said the seven nations were faced with “extreme blackmail” from Fifa.

In Summary

• “Fifa has forbidden us from using a symbol of diversity and human rights,” said DFB media director Steffen Simon.

• Kane wore the Fifa armband as England began their World Cup campaign with a 6-2 win against Iran on Monday, with the Three Lions also taking the knee before kick-off.

Harry Kane of England gestures during a 2022 Fifa World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on November 21
Harry Kane of England gestures during a 2022 Fifa World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on November 21
Image: XINHUA

The German football federation is investigating whether it is legal for Fifa to threaten players with sanction for wearing the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar.

The captains of seven European nations had planned to wear the armband to promote diversity and inclusion. But the plans were dropped following Fifa’s threat of players being booked.

“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.”

Germany — who begin their World Cup campaign against Japan on Wednesday - were one of the teams who had planned to wear the armband, along with England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Simon told German media outlet Bild that the DFB has contacted the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) over the issue and is hoping captain Manuel Neuer will be able to wear the OneLove armband for his side’s second Group E game against Spain on Sunday.

Simon had previously said the seven nations were faced with “extreme blackmail” from Fifa. German supermarket chain Rewe has suspended its advertising deal with the DFB in a bid to distance itself from Fifa.

Fifa has brought forward its own ‘No Discrimination’ campaign, which had been due to start from the quarter-finals.

Captains are now permitted to wear a No Discrimination armband for the duration of the tournament.

Kane wore the Fifa armband as England began their World Cup campaign with a 6-2 win against Iran on Monday, with the Three Lions also taking the knee before kick-off.

It was announced in September that the captains of 10 European nations - England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands — would wear a OneLove armband at Nations League games and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Norway and Sweden did not qualify for the World Cup while France captain Hugo Lloris said he would not wear the armband because he wanted to “show respect” to Qatar.

The Netherlands began the OneLove campaign before Euro 2020 to promote diversity and inclusion, and as a message against discrimination.

Same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar, because they are considered immoral under Islamic Sharia law.

Former England winger Andros Townsend has said he is “a bit uneasy” about protests against Qatar’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights in the country given its basis in Islamic Sharia law.

Speaking on TalkSport, the Everton winger said Muslim players respect campaigns such as rainbow laces in the UK, but they “can’t promote it because they fear they are going against their religion”.

He added: “It’s difficult — when they are in our country they respect our beliefs. We’re coming to their country, we don’t agree with it, but it’s still their religious belief.

“I’m a bit uneasy that we’re coming here and protesting and upsetting a culture when these guys are in their own country.”