France’s sports minister urged the national football team on Thursday to make its voice heard amid a row over FIFA’s threat to sanction the “OneLove” armband.
On Wednesday, all German players put their hands over their mouths in front of dozens of photographers in the stadium before kick-off, after FIFA threatened seven European teams with penalties if they wore the armband, which symbolizes diversity and tolerance.
France is not among the seven teams, with French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet saying they will “follow FIFA guidelines”.
“I think FIFA’s decision to ban the One Love badge will be talked about for a while. Do I wish there was room for complete freedom? Obviously, the answer is yes,” Amelie Odia Castera told Public Senat TV.
“Are there still spaces of freedom where our French team can continue to express its commitment to human rights? The answer is yes. The Germans show it.”
While the players and coach Didier Deschamps said they were doing what they were told, Odia Castera is hopeful things will change.
“We still have weeks in which they can be free to express themselves, and use these spaces of freedom to get their messages across,” she said.
“They have these values too. They come from a country that holds these values high and it is important that they represent them.”
“It’s politics, you say what you want. We made our position clear on this situation (before the World Cup) but we are here to play football and have fun on the field,” France midfielder Matteo Guendouzi told a news conference.
“We are not insensitive to this situation but we are here to play football.”
Asked if he would wear the armband before France’s opening match against Australia, which they won 4-1, captain Hugo Lloris said, “FIFA organizes the competition and sets the framework and rules.
“We, the players, are required to play football, to represent our country as much as possible in the sports field.
“I prefer to stay within my framework, the framework of a player and an opponent, but there are really different causes that are commendable and we must support them. But at the end of the day, FIFA decides to regulate.”
The OneLove armbands, which aim to send a message of tolerance, connection and opposition to all forms of discrimination, have been in the global spotlight since FIFA threatened several European team captains with yellow cards if they wore them in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. and homosexuality (LGBTQ) in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales backed out, but the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) said on Wednesday it was jointly examining its legal options.
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