Eden Hazard advised them to “focus on football” after the Germany squad protested their inability to wear the OneLove armband.
Due to the possibility that their individual captains could earn yellow cards for doing so, Germany, England, and Wales were among the teams that decided not to have their captains wear the armband in Qatar at the very last minute.
The respective football organisations’ hasty decision has drawn harsh criticism.
Due to FIFA’s stance, the German FA is considering legal action against the organization, but on Wednesday, the national team’s pregame antics against Japan made headlines.
Before their shocking defeat, the team posed for a picture with all 11 players covering their mouths in protest.
As the problems surrounding LGBT rights continued to be discussed, other players also donned rainbow laces, while captain Manuel Neuer wore rainbow-colored football boots.
Due to Qatar’s hosting of the competition, attention has been drawn to LGBTQ+ rights in a nation where homosexuality is against the law.
“I’m not comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football,” Belgium’s Hazard said on Wednesday after his side defeated Canada 1-0 in an unconvincing performance. “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.”
When questioned about other teams, Hazard immediately criticized Germany’s performance and action saying: “They would have done better not to do it and to win instead. We are here to play football, I am not here to send a political message. Other people are better placed for that. We want to be focused on football.”
According to Germany manager Hansi Flick, the gesture was intended “to make a point” and draw attention to the threat that was made against them by football’s international governing body after they were involved in the armband request.
“The reason for the armband was that the team wanted to make a point,” remarked the previous Bayern Munich manager.
“FIFA put a stop to it and threatened punishments if it was on display. For those countries that played yesterday, it was extremely short notice. The armband is a symbol for diversity and values which we represent and live by.”
“We treat each other with a great deal of respect and esteem, but as far as those values are concerned, there are parties who don’t see it that way. Yellow cards wouldn’t have been a problem, but the manner in which it was left open and threatened so shortly before the game put the likes of England and the Netherlands in a difficult position.”
“There wasn’t any time to react to it; therefore, those countries said that we will remove that pressure from the players’ shoulders. I think it’s a real shame that you aren’t allowed to stand up for human rights anymore.”
Eden Michael Walter Hazard (born 7 January 1991) is a Belgian professional football player who captains the Belgium national team in addition to playing as a winger or attacking midfielder for La Liga club Real Madrid.
One of the best players of his time, Hazard is renowned for his inventiveness, dribbling, passing, and vision.
Hazard started his career in Belgium playing for regional youth clubs. He is the son of two former football players.
He relocated to France in 2005, where he signed with Lille of Ligue 1 to start his senior career.
He moved to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019 for one of the largest transfer fees ever—up to €150 million. However, due to recurring ailments, Hazard played fewer games and saw a decline in performance.
Why Did Germany Protest?
Germany’s players used the World Cup as their opportunity to make a statement as the photographers queued up at Khalifa International Stadium in preparation for the customary but frequently pointless routine of shooting a team photo.
Germany protested FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, by raising their right hands to their mouths and holding them there until the final photograph was taken.
FIFA had forbid Germany’s captain from participating in the game while sporting a multicolored armband as part of a social justice campaign.
The move came two days after FIFA threatened several other European teams, including Germany, with in-game punishment for wearing armbands supporting gay rights. The decision infuriated the teams and sparked accusations of bullying against the tournament organizer, but it was ultimately upheld.
The goal of the campaign was to increase public awareness of marginalized groups in the host nation of Qatar, where gay activity is illegal.
The teams had informed FIFA of their plans in September, but they didn’t hear back until just hours before England, the first team to declare its support, was scheduled to launch its campaign on Monday.