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



CNN

Football pundits on Qatar’s Al Kass Sports Channel have mocked the German soccer team following their World Cup elimination – mimicking the players’ human rights protest.

On Thursday, a video clip on the channel’s Twitter page showed former Kuwaiti soccer player Gamal Mubarak covering his mouth with his left hand and waving his right hand, then inviting former Egyptian goalkeeper and fellow analyst Essam El-Hadary to join him.

Soon after, El-Hadary and other critics covered their mouths and bid farewell – apparently in celebration of Germany’s exit.

It seems that football pundits on the Qatari Sports Cup channel are imitating the German players' protest gesture.

The gesture echoes what German players have done to protest FIFA’s decision to ban the “OneLove” armband that many European leaders had hoped to wear in Qatar in support of LGBT rights.

Prior to Germany’s first game on 23 November, the team’s home squad stood with their right hands in front of their mouths, in a gesture to oppose what they saw as a curtailment of freedom of expression.

Germany lost that match to Japan in a shocking upset. The subsequent victory over Costa Rica on Thursday was not enough for Germany to get out of the group stage and into the last 16.

“Praise be to God, today all Arab and Islamic countries are praying for Japan to qualify with any team, but the most important thing is Germany’s exit,” Mubarak said on Al-Kass Sports channel.

The clip was broadcast on the Al-Majlis program hosted by Qatari broadcaster Khaled Jassim, and Arab football analysts, including Mubarak, Al-Hadary and former Iraqi player Younis Mahmoud, participated in it.

After Germany drew 1:1 against Spain last Sunday, Jasim said in an episode of the Majlis that he was “shocked” by Germany’s protest.

“You are [Germany] You are supposed to respect our customs, traditions, culture and religion in the same way we respect yours. “When we go to Germany or other places, we respect the rules and the laws, we respect everything that is dear to the community there.”

And in a series of tweets last week, the German Football Association stood by the protest, saying: “It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. This should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t right. That’s why this message is important.” Too much for us. To deny us the armband 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 armbands — which feature a heart striped in different colors to represent all legacies, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities — before warning FIFA. Players can receive a yellow card if they do so.

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

However, the state insisted that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our track record has shown that we warmly welcome all people regardless of their background.”

Fifa’s decision to sanction players for wearing the “OneLove” armband sparked outrage, with the Football Supporters’ Association, the representative body for football fans in England and Wales, saying it “feels betrayed”.

“Since 2010, we have been asking questions about the suitability of Qatar to host the World Cup,” said a statement from the Free Syrian Army.

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