DOHA (Reuters) – Netherlands midfielder Davy Klaassen praised Wednesday’s protest action by the Germany team, and suggested he and his team mates might also plan something at the World Cup in Qatar to highlight human rights and the “OneLove” campaign.
The German starting line-up placed their hands over their mouths during a team photo ahead of their Group E game against Japan on Wednesday as the row over FIFA’s threat of sanctions regarding the “OneLove” armband continued.
All Germany players took part in the gesture in front of dozens of photographers on the pitch ahead of kickoff, after world soccer’s ruling body FIFA had threatened seven European teams with sanctions if they wore the armband symbolising diversity and tolerance.
“I thought it was a nice expression from Germany,” Klaassen told a news conference at the Dutch training camp in Qatar hours after the German protest.
“Of course, we were also thinking about making a statement as a group,” he added.
“It has to be done in a good and catchy way. Germany has found an original way to express their point of view.”
A statement from the German Football Association (DFB) said: “We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.
“It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk hit back earlier this week at criticism that European countries who planned to wear the armband had wilted under FIFA pressure and the possibility they would be booked.
“I play in a position where a yellow card is not useful. I became a football player and I want to play these kind of tournaments,” Van Dijk said
“There are people who say we don’t have a backbone, but that’s not how it works.
“We just want to play football. I would have loved to play with that band, but not at the expense of a yellow card,” he added.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Doha; Editing by Ed Osmond)