QATAR – Germany captain Manuel Neuer said he had “no fear” about possible repercussions from FIFA for his country’s human rights stances, while acknowledging the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Qatar World Cup.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday at the team’s training base in Al-Shamal, in northern Qatar, Neuer pledged to wear the controversial “One Love” rainbow armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Firstly, I want to say that we all haven’t experienced something like this — the whole tournament is an experiment,” Neuer said.
“But we have the complete backing of the (German Football Association), we have no fear.”
The ‘One Love’ armband has become a flashpoint in the lead-up to the tournament, particularly after former Qatari footballer and current tournament ambassador Khalid Salman said he did not want children to see gay people at the World Cup and called homosexuality “damage in the mind”.
The captains of several European countries have pledged to wear the armband, including those of Germany, England, Belgium and Denmark.
Neuer emphasised that the “power the armband has” was greater if several countries wore it.
“Other European nations are wearing (the armband) and it is good we are doing it together.”
Team official Oliver Bierhoff said on Saturday it appeared FIFA “does not have a clear stance” amid mixed messages presented in the lead-up to the tournament.
“We assume we can continue to wear the armband” the former Germany striker said.
Speaking on Friday, DFB President Bernd Neuendorf said he was “personally ready to pay a fine” should penalties be levied for wearing the armband.
Germany play their first World Cup group game against Japan on November 23.