Members of Germany’s national soccer team protested FIFA’s ban on players wearing LGBTQ armbands at the World Cup by covering their mouths when posing for a team photo.
All players for Germany’s starting 11 posed for the team’s official photo before their opening match Wednesday against Japan by using their right hand to cover their mouth.
According to FIFA rules, players are required to wear only what is authorized as part of their team’s uniform. On Monday, the organization threatened to issue yellow cards to players who break the rules.
“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,” the team said. “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,” the team added. “Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
Germany, who last won the World Cup in 2014, lost their opening Group E match against Japan 2-1 on Wednesday.