Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka said his team will not partake in Germany’s protests at the World Cup and he is not in Qatar to “hand out lessons to anyone.”
The German national team’s decision to cover their mouths shortly before their game against Japan in protest over FIFA banning the wearing of the pro-LGBT “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup sparked world headlines, with a number of Western teams protesting the decision.
However, not everyone is on the same page as the Germans. In contrast, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka called for respecting rules of the competition and Qatari culture.
Xhaka was also set to wear the OneLove armband for Switzerland, but once FIFA banned the armband, he said players “need to respect the rules.”
When asked about Germany’s protest, Xhaka responded, “I don’t think we need to do anything as the Swiss team. We need to respect the rules and concentrate on our football, that’s all I intend to do. We’re here to play football and not hand out lessons to anyone.”
In recent years, the German team, along with other teams such as England’s national team, have been criticized for injecting politics into football, such as with their insistence on kneeling for Black Lives Matter. The team also arrived to the World Cup in an airplane with the slogan “Diversity Wins,” which is designed to promote multiculturalism.
Supporters of the German team’s protest point to Qatar’s strict Islamic laws against LGBT, including a complete ban on homosexuality, which they argue is inhumane. However, that has not stopped Germany’s left-wing government, which has backed the German team’s protests, from pursuing Qatar’s energy resources in recent months due to soaring energy prices.