World football’s governing body FIFA on Friday said it will not sanction the German national team for its T-shirt protest in support of human rights before a World Cup qualifier.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew said he supported the players after they wore black T-shirts with white lettering to spell out “Human Rights”, aimed at 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar, before Thursday’s 3-0 win over Iceland.
“It was a sign that we stand up for all human rights in the world, no matter where,” said Loew after the qualifier in Duisburg.
FIFA prohibits political statements during its matches, but the governing body told AFP subsidiary SID they will not sanction the Germans.
“FIFA believes in freedom of expression and in the power of football to drive positive change,” it said in a statement on Friday.
FIFA had already also said it will not penalise the Norway team for a similar protest connected to human rights issues in Qatar.
Human rights groups have been heavily critical of Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers. Qatar disputes the claims.
Norway’s coach Staale Solbakken on Friday welcomed the Germans echoing his team’s message.
On Wednesday, the Norway team wore T-shirts bearing ‘Human rights, on and off the pitch’ before their qualifier against Gibraltar.
“It’s good that the Mannschaft (German team) are following on from us. They are really one of the big teams,” said Solbakken.
“I don’t know how many people watched Germany play their first World Cup qualifier, but it was probably between 10 and 12 million.
“It’s having an effect.”
Norway are planning another protest for their next World Cup qualifier against Turkey in Malaga on Saturday.
In Berlin on Friday, the German government welcomed their national team’s protest in “making it clear once again what values they stand for,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.
“That’s something good, because the national team” represents Germany, and so “it’s good if it professes the values of our liberal democracy,” Seibert added.
However, Dagmar Freitag, chair of the German parliament’s sports committee, saw an element of double standards in the football team’s protest.
Freitag welcomed the stance, but pointed out that it put the Bayern Munich players involved “in a difficult situation” as Qatar’s national airline sponsors the club world champions.