World Cup star critical of German protest
Belgium forward Eden Hazard has spoken out against Germany’s protest against FIFA which took place prior to their shock 2-1 World Cup defeat to Japan on Wednesday.
Germany’s players, the German FA (DFB) later explained, took it upon themselves to express their dissatisfaction at the FIFA mandate which stated that any players who wore anti-discrimination ‘One Love’ armbands during World Cup matches were liable for sanctions, including immediate yellow cards.
FIFA’s stance is that it believes politics and sport should be kept separate, though world football’s governing body did institute its own ‘No Discrimination’ campaign and provided players with the option of wearing armbands featuring various messages supporting human rights which had been approved by football chiefs.
The ‘One Love’ armband is designed to highlight instances of human rights abuses and discrimination in the Gulf state in which homosexuality remains illegal.
The German national team responded to the furore by covering their mouths during the team's official photograph, with boss Hansi Flack later explaining that the move was designed to express their belief that FIFA are “silencing” them.
Hazard, though, who captained Belgium to a 1-0 win against Canada in their debut match in Qatar, addressed the issue after the final whistle and said that he did not wish to participate in the situation because he felt that receiving a yellow card for such an act of defiance would have been “annoying.”
“Afterwards they [Germany] lost the match,” the Real Madrid player told RMC Sport.
“They would have done better not to do it and to win. We are here to play football, I am not here to send a political message, people are better placed for that. We want to be focused on football.”
The ‘One Love’ armband issue has been something of a thorn in FIFA’s side throughout the early days of the World Cup. Several European international teams had openly stated their desire to participate in the demonstration before the FIFA crackdown.
However, the protest has since seemed to have been transplanted from dressing rooms to government buildings, with various European dignitaries appearing to defy FIFA by sporting rainbow-colored clothing while attending games in Qatar.
“I’m not comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football,” Hazard continued.
“We were banned for a bit… I didn’t want to start the match with a yellow card, it would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament.”