Football pundits on Qatari channel Alkass Sports have mocked Germany’s soccer team following its World Cup exit – mimicking the players’ human rights protest.
A video on the channel’s Twitter page, posted on Thursday, shows former Kuwaiti footballer Jamal Mubarak covering his mouth with his left hand and waving goodbye with his right, then calling on former Egypt goalkeeper and fellow analyst Essam El-Hadary to join the him.
Soon after, El-Hadary and other pundits shut their mouths and wave goodbye – apparently in honor of Germany’s exit.
The gesture mimics what German players did to protest FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” armband that many European captains had hoped to wear in Qatar in support of LGBTQ rights.
Before Germany’s first game on November 23, the team’s starters posed with their right hand over their mouths, a gesture to oppose what they saw as restrictions on free speech.
Germany lost that match to Japan in a shocking upset. A subsequent win against Costa Rica on Thursday was not enough for Germany to get out of the group stage and reach the last 16.
“Thank God, today all Arab and Muslim nations (are) praying for Japan to qualify with any team, but the most important thing is the exit of Germany,” Mubarak said on Alkass Sports channel.
The segment was broadcast on the channel’s al-Majlis show, hosted by Qatari host Khalid Jassim and featuring Arab football analysts including Mubarak, El-Hadari and former Iraqi player Younis Mahmoud.
After Germany’s 1-1 draw against Spain last Sunday, Jassem said on an episode of al-Majlis that he was “shocked” by Germany’s protest.
“You [Germany] they must respect our customs, traditions, culture and religion in the same way we respect your customs, traditions and culture,” Jassem said. “When we go to Germany or other places, we follow the rules and laws and respect everything that is dear to society there.”
In a series of tweets last week, the German FA stood behind the protest, saying: “It was not about making a political statement – human rights are not up for debate. This should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t. That is why this message is so important to us. Denying us the tape is the same as denying us a voice.
Ahead of the tournament, captains from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark planned to wear the armbands – which include a striped heart in different colors to represent all heritages, origins, genders and sexual identities – before FIFA warned players they they could get a yellow card if they do.
In the build-up to the World Cup, host country 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” at the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our experience shows that we have warmly welcomed all people, regardless of background”.
FIFA’s decision to sanction players for wearing the ‘OneLove’ strip has nevertheless sparked anger, with the Football Supporters’ Association, the representative body for football supporters in England and Wales, saying it “feels betrayed”.
“Since 2010, we have been raising questions about Qatar’s suitability to host the World Cup,” the FSA said in a statement.