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Germany fall to Japan but stand up to Fifa as pressure mounts at controversial Qatar World Cup

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independent.co.uk

Germany fans had waited four years for their team to make a statement at the Qatar World Cup, but they weren’t necessarily thinking of the one that Hansi Flick’s side delivered in their opening game.While the national team failed to banish the spectre of Russia 2018, where Germany’s World Cup campaign came crashing down in Kazan, the team at least ensured that they addressed a much more pressing issue here.Four-and-a-half years after a 2-0 defeat by South Korea saw Germany’s catastrophic world title defence end in the group stage – and in shame – the four-time champions went some way to restoring pride before they had kicked a ball against Japan; which was just as well, given their actual kicking of the ball offered little to celebrate.Lining up for their pre-game photograph ahead of this 2-1 loss to Japan, every Germany player covered their mouth, making clear their frustration at Fifa’s attempts to silence political dissections of this World Cup.

Prior to that gesture, Flick’s players had sported rainbow sleeves on their training tops while warming up for this opening Group E tie, while – up in the stands – Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser, wore the OneLove armband that Fifa has so adamantly tried to wipe from existence.Seven teams at the World Cup had intended for their captains to sport the rainbow-coloured OneLove band throughout this controversial edition of the world championship, showing their protest of the anti-LGBTQ+ laws and attitudes in host country Qatar, as well as the state’s alleged human-rights abuses; only for Fifa to threaten sporting punishment, i.e.

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