German Football Federation to Take Legal Action Against Fifa’s OneLove Armband Ban |  Germany

German Football Federation to Take Legal Action Against Fifa’s OneLove Armband Ban | Germany

The German football association said it was planning legal action against Fifa for its ban on OneLove rainbow armbands at the World Cup as it faced the humiliating decision of one of the most major supermarket chains in the country to sever business ties.

The DFB refused to let Qatari players wear the armbands promoting diversity and inclusion after world football’s governing body threatened to issue yellow cards to team captains, but faced a swift backlash , including supermarket chain REWE, which became the first sponsor to take direct action as it announced it would drop its advertising campaign in protest at the move.

DFB spokesman Stefan Simon confirmed to the tabloid Bild that he had filed a complaint about the legal validity of the decision before the international sports tribunal, the CAS, in Lausanne.

“Fifa banned us from using a symbol of diversity and human rights. He said the ban would be linked to massive sanctions (in the nature of) sports sanctions without specifying exactly what that meant. The DFB is keen to clarify whether Fifa’s procedure is in fact legitimate,” he said.

Simon said the DFB hoped to overturn the ban by the time of Germany’s second game against Spain on Sunday, restoring captain Manuel Neuer’s right to wear the OneLove symbol without incurring penalties.

REWE, in a statement before the DFB announced its legal action, said it wanted to distance itself unambiguously from the position taken by Fifa and the statement made by its president, Gianni Infantino, the weekend he was accused West of ‘hypocrisy’ in reporting on Qatar’s human rights record.

Linoel Souque, chief executive of the Cologne-based chain of stores, which has annual global sales of €76.5bn (£66bn), said the company could not accept the ‘outrageous’ stance of FIFA. “We stand for diversity and football is diversity. Fifa’s outrageous behavior is for me as the CEO of a diverse company as well as a football fan absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

The DFB’s decision came after Fifa threatened its participating clubs with sanctions, including issuing yellow cards to players if they failed to comply. Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Wales and Denmark have all withdrawn their plans to allow their captains to wear the armbands.

DFB President Bernd Neuendorf said: “In my opinion, this is something of a show of power from Fifa. We see this as more than frustrating and as an unprecedented event in the history of the World Cup.”

Telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom said on Tuesday it planned to speak to the DFB, but did not say what steps it might be prepared to take. Volkswagen, Adidas, Lufthansa and Commerzbank, the DFB’s other business partners, are also under pressure to react.

The row reflects a generally pessimistic and often angry mood in Germany over the tournament in Qatar. Demonstrations have included street demonstrations and a stadium lighting 20,000 candles over the weekend for deceased Qatari migrant workers, many of whom were building facilities for the World Cup.

Some German pubs and bars are refusing to show the tournament while others have announced they will donate the proceeds from their alcohol sales to migrant worker charities.

REWE had told the DFB last month that he was not going to extend his multi-year contract with the DFB, but did not mention a World Cup connection.

The sticker album currently available in stores as well as the sticker packs to go with it will be available for free with immediate effect, Souque said. Any money already earned from sticker album sales will be donated to a suitable cause, he added.

Souque said the supermarket nevertheless wished the German team good luck. “We are on your side and we support you,” he said.

In the polls, more than half of Germans are in favor of a boycott of the World Cup, by spectators, sponsors and politicians. The majority said they would not watch the games on TV and there was widespread criticism of the public broadcaster for paying around €200m for the rights to broadcast the tournament. Many politicians who were supposed to visit Qatar no longer do so.

The real test of football fans’ feelings will be Wednesday afternoon’s game between Japan and Germany.

Telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom said on Tuesday it planned to speak to the DFB, but did not say what steps it might be prepared to take. Volkswagen, Adidas, Lufthansa and Commerzbank, the DFB’s other business partners, are also under pressure to react.

Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, called the armband ban a “huge mistake” by Fifa. “It breaks the heart of every fan to see how Fifa also puts the burden on the shoulders of the players,” she said.

Theo Zwanziger, former DFB president, told Bild: “I am happy that the DFB is now defending itself against the extraordinary machinations of Fifa President Gianni Infantino and taking his case to CAS. Anything else would have only further damaged the credibility of the DFB,” he said.

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