It does not come as a surprise when we hear human rights issues and Qatar in the same sentence. Although there has been a lot of excitement surrounding the World Cup, teams and those supporting their home countries don’t seem to be turning a blind eye to what is happening. During the match of Germany x Japan, German players posed for a photo covering their mouths as a form of protest since FIFA has determined they were not allowed to wear OneLove bands during the game – as a form of support to the LGBTQ + community. Manuel Neur, Germany’s goalkeeper, spoke to ESPN, as he stated, “We may have our bands taken away from us, but we’ll never let our voices be taken from us,” Neuer said. “We stand for human rights. That’s what we wanted to show. We may have been silenced by FIFA regarding the captain’s armbands, but we always stand for our values.”
Later, the German Football Association (DBF) highlighted that this act was 100% focused on human rights, which considerably shed a light on a subject that can be put on hold considering that FIFA may be trying to overshadow it. “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. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
Another example of human rights activism happened during Portugal and Uruguay’s match. A protester ran on the field holding a rainbow flag, wearing a superman shirt “Save Ukraine” in the front, and in the back “Respect for Iranian women” advocating for justice, peace and equality. The protester is now banned by Qatar to attend any other World Cup match. Although Qatar’s government has also banned broadcasters to cover stories in some parts of the country, this gives an opportunity to bring attention to something that people may be forgetting due to the excitement of the tournament. Sources such as CNN, Fox, and NBC have covered it.
Meanwhile, the USA fans are glad that human rights are being brought up during the World Cup. The author Denise Kiernan from Asheville, North Caroline, has said that she was glad to see that some light was being shed on these issues, and that hopefully the media continues to approach it even after the end of the tournament. “It did not prevent me from coming to this tournament. I am glad a light is being shone on them. What I am very curious to see is whether or not people who have been following the stories of the treatment of migrant workers, for example – whether or not their families were properly reimbursed for deaths and injuries, whether or not people are paid – I want to see whether or not those stories are followed three months, six months, nine months, a year out, to make sure that those issues are resolved. What would bother me is if they were not.”