Qatari TV pundits mock Germany’s ‘OneLove’ armband protest after World Cup exit



CNN

Qatar’s Alkass Sports channel’s football pundits have mocked Germany’s World Cup exit, imitating footballers’ protests against human rights.

In a video posted on the channel’s Twitter account on Thursday, former Kuwaiti footballer Jamal Mubarak covered his mouth with his left hand and waved goodbye with his right hand, inviting former Egyptian goalkeeper and fellow pundit Essam El-Hadary to join him.

Soon, El-Hadary and the other pundits shut up and say goodbye – in celebration of Germany’s exit.

Alkass Sports, Qatar's football pundits, appear to mimic the German players' protest.

The move is similar to what German players did to protest FIFA’s decision to ban the ‘OneLove’ armband, which many European captains had hoped to wear in Qatar in support of LGBTQ rights.

Before Germany’s first match on November 23, the team’s starting line-up put their right hands in front of their mouths in protest at what they saw as a crackdown on free speech.

Germany lost to Japan in this game. A come-from-behind win against Costa Rica on Thursday wasn’t enough to see Germany out of the group stage and into the last 16.

“Thank God, today all Arab and Muslim countries (are) asking for Japan to participate in any team, but the most important thing is for Germany to come out,” Mubarak said on Alkass Sports.

The segment aired on the channel’s al-Majlis show, hosted by Qatari anchor Khalid Jasem and featuring Arab football pundits including Mubarak, El-Hadari and former Iraq player Younis Mahmoud.

After Germany’s 1-1 draw with Spain last Sunday, Jassem said on an episode of Al-Majlis that he was “surprised” by Germany’s protest.

“You [Germany] We should respect our traditions, culture and religion just as we respect your customs, traditions and cultures,” Jasem said. “When we go to Germany or other places, we respect the rules and laws and everything that is dear to society there.”

In a series of tweets last week, the German Football Association supported the protest, saying: “This is not about making a political statement – human rights cannot be discussed. It should be taken for granted, but it is not. That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us a signature is tantamount to denying us a vote.”

Ahead of the tournament, the captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark had planned to wear armbands with striped hearts in different colors to represent all heritages, origins, genders and sexual identities before being warned by FIFA. players, if they do that, they can get a yellow card.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison, has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.

However, the country insisted that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our experience has shown that we welcome everyone regardless”.

FIFA’s decision to sanction players for wearing ‘OneLove’ armbands has angered the Football Supporters’ Association, the representative body for football fans in England and Wales, saying it “feels sold out”.

“Since 2010, we have been raising questions about Qatar’s eligibility to host the World Cup,” the FSA said in a statement.

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