Manuel Neuer has insisted “FIFA will never silence us” after Germany players covered their mouths during the team photograph before their match against Japan earlier today.
Neuer and the six other members of the national team’s players council came up with the idea of the squad’s team photo protest in a meeting on Tuesday night.
“We talked about it and all agreed that we really wanted to do something,” the 36-year-old said.
A decision was taken that the starting XI would cover their mouths during the team photo, directly after singing the national anthem.
“We said they can take our armband, but as much as FIFA might want to, they will never silence us. We stand for our values and for human rights. We wanted to show that,” the Bayern Munich goalkeeper added.
Neuer admitted that he’d been affected by FIFA’s hardline stance — described as “extreme blackmail” by German FA media director Steffen Simon — in the run-up to the 2-1 defeat at Khalifa International Stadium.
“The fact that it was such a short-term decision was a negative surprise for us,” the 36-year-old said. “It didn’t just impact on us but all the other nations that wanted to take part [in wearing the “One Love” armband]. The timing was actually horrible for me. We didn’t know what sanctions there might be.
“Personally, I didn’t want to weaken the team in terms of bans or points deduction or yellow cards. That’s why when the first couple of nations started wearing the official FIFA armband, it was obvious that we would stand with them.”
Joshua Kimmich hinted that Germany will continue to make a political stand at this tournament.
“We won’t let them take our voice away. If we feel we have to say something, we will continue to do so and point to certain things. Hopefully we will win the game on Sunday (against Spain) as well.”
(Photo: Getty Images)