The anti-discrimination armband which nine European captains plan to wear at the World Cup in Qatar has sparked a debate in Germany because the colours don’t match the rainbow flag used by the LGBTIQ+ community.
Critics say it stops short of seriously protesting against human rights issues in Qatar but the football federation DFB insists it supports diversity of any kind, not only of sexual orientation.
Captains Manuel Neuer of Germany, Harry Kane of England and Hugo Lloris of France are among those to wear the white armband at the November 20-December 18 tournament which includes the slogan One Love and a heart with many colours.
Germany and England were among those who unveiled it Thursday.
Bijan Djir-Sarai, secretary general of the liberal Free Democrats party told dpa on Friday the armband was “a bad attempt to hurt nobody, neither the Pride movement nor the World Cup hosts. But human rights are non-negotiable.”
Fan representative Dario Minden from the Our Curve group told the Tagesspiegel paper that if the armband was the only DFB statement that would be “embarrassing to catastrophic.”
The DFB has said it was never the intention that the colours were be show a rainbow and that the armband was rather directed against any kind of discrimination.
“Red, black and green can be found in the pan-African flag, pink, yellow and blue symbolise the pan-sexual flag. The nations which are part of the ‘One-Love-armband’ want to send a positive message for any kind of diversity,” the DFB said.
It added that the Dutch have been using the logo for a while and suggested to share it with the eight others.
Germany coach Hansi Flick has also insisted: “It is about that these are not only the rainbow colours but all of them. It includes everyone, every individual who is sitting here, and around the world. It is about that we are all equal.”
Qatar has over the years been criticised for the treatment of migrant workers in the country and there are concerns from LGBTIQ+ community activists about their members visiting the tournament because homosexuality is forbidden in the country.
The hosts say that labour reforms have been carried out in the conservative Gulf state and that everyone is welcome for the tournament, without discrimination.
The issues have been discussed among many teams and the captain’s armband is one attempt to raise awareness.
Germany defender Nico Schlotterbeck meanwhile said he hopes the World Cup will contribute to reforms in Qatar but that the players can’t be at the forefront of calling for change.
“We the players can’t influence a lot as far as I am concerned, that is mainly an issue for officials and politicians. We the athletes didn’t award the tournament to Qatar. We must try to have maximum success. That is our job,” he told the corporate newsroom Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Friday.
Schlotterbeck admitted the situation in Qatar was not satisfactory and said that “football must be open for everyone. It stands for diversity.
“I wish that the World Cup can contribute to a further opening in Qatar. I hope that everyone who is keen on the World Cup can and will be there,” the Borussia Dortmund player said.