Germany captured the world’s attention ahead of its World Cup match against Japan as the starting XI covered their mouths with their hands as a form of protest. 

It happened in wake of FIFA deciding to prevent team captains from wearing the “OneLove” armband, which has a striped heart with various colors to promote inclusion and raise awareness for marginalized groups. Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told The Athletic“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.” 

Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales were all going to participate in the campaign. 

Not everyone was supportive of Germany’s move. Belgium’s Eden Hazard was asked about his thoughts on the matter, and he responded to RMC Sport, “Afterwards they lost the match. They would have done better not to do it and to win.” Japan shockingly beat Germany, 2–1. 

Hazard continued, “We're here to play football. I'm not here to pass on a political message, there are people who are better placed for that. We want to be concentrated on the football.” 

Hazard noted he would’ve reconsidered his thought process if the circumstances at this year’s World Cup were different. If captains decided to wear the armbands, FIFA reportedly threatened to give them a yellow card. According to ESPN, Hazard said, “I'm not at ease talking about it because I'm here to play football. We were kind of forbidden from... I didn't want to start the match with a yellow card, it would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament.

“If I were to redo it, maybe I would wear it again.” 

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