German dressing room rift reported after some players allegedly didn't want to take part in mouth-covering protest
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Germany exited the FIFA World Cup in the group stages for a shocking second time in as many tournaments.
Perhaps their most striking contribution to the tournament was their powerful protest against FIFA’s decision to ban the ‘One Love’ armband.
Moments before kick-off of their World Cup opener against Japan, every Germany player covered their mouth in a team photo in protest against FIFA’s ban of the armband.
The German FA confirmed that the team had come up with the idea, according to The Athletic. In a post on their official Twitter account, the German national team said: "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."
It was a move that was ridiculed by some, such as Belgium star Eden Hazard who said Germany should focus on football rather than ‘political messages’.
Ultimately, Germany fell short in the football department as they crashed out of the tournament, with the loss against Japan proving costly.
However, according to Fox Sports, local reports have emerged that some players did not want to go through with the gesture.
TV host Esther Sedlaczek reported the dressing room rift while interviewing German football director Oliver Bierhoff.
She asked: “Would you say that the One-Love armband could have been handled better?
“The fact is, according to our sources, not every player was OK with the gesture before the Japan game and that they worried that it would cause issues in the team.”
According to local media, Bierhoff admitted that the gesture could’ve been handled better.
He said: “We could have done it better without a doubt. Whether that is decisive for the elimination is another matter.”
The former player noted that the disappointment back home was very much at the forefront of his mind.
He added: “Obviously the disappointment is huge – and you can feel anger. Anger because – after watching the three games – I think it was in our hands to survive in this group. It started with the first game, which annoys me the most.
“We had Japan under control, the 20 minutes at the end cost us a lot.
“We’re all in the same boat. It’s not about who’s to blame here? The players gave their all. But in the end you have to realize that it’s just not enough.”
SPORTbible reached out to the German Football Association for comment.
Featured Image Credit: @DB_Team_EN/Twitter. dpa picture alliance / Alamy.
Topics: Germany, Football, Football World Cup, Qatar