German Soccer Protest

The German soccer team holding hands to their mouths in protest
The German soccer team holding hands to their mouths in protest

Before their first game at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the German team protested during a photography session. The players held hands to their mouths to represent being silenced. They were protesting a decision by FIFA that teams cannot wear 'One Love' armbands in support of diversity and mutual respect.

Qatar, an Islamic country in the Persian Gulf, is a controversial host in some parts of the world. Just before the event started, Qatar announced that alcohol would not be served at games. Other issues have been simmering for longer. Qatar has been criticized for the large numbers of migrant workers that died during the construction of World Cup facilities. Also, while many in the West now accept homosexuality, it remains illegal in Qatar and other countries.

Qatar and FIFA appear determined to suppress particular expressions and protests. For example, before entering the stadium, security officials told fans to remove rainbow-colored clothing because rainbows are associated with the LGBTQ rights movement. Also, FIFA told the German team and other teams that they would receive a yellow card if they wore the colorful 'One Love' armbands.

Teams were unhappy about FIFA’s threat but felt they had to comply. For the German team, covering their mouths was an appropriate way to display their unhappiness.


For source links, see the article on

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Protest (n, v) - showing you disagree with something
  • Silence (v) - to make somebody stop speaking or making noise
  • Diversity (n) - celebrating people’s differences
  • LGBTQ (acronym) - lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning
  • Controversial (adj) - a subject, opinion, or decision that people disagree about
  • Simmer (v) - almost boiling, an issue that is gathering intensity
  • Migrant (n) - a person that has moved from one place to another
  • Homosexuality (n) - romantic attraction to others of the same sex
  • Suppress (v) - to prevent something from being expressed
  • Comply (v) - to obey a rule or order


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Are you a soccer fan? If so, which teams do you support? If not, why not?
  2. Do you think Qatar was a good choice to host the World Cup?
  3. What rights should humans have in your opinion?
  4. Is it a human right to love whomever you want to love?
  5. Is drinking alcohol common in your community? How do you feel about alcohol?
  6. What are the positive and negative effects of drinking alcohol?
  7. Do you agree that the German team was ‘silenced’?
  8. Is Qatar responsible for the deaths of migrant workers? Why?
  9. What is tolerance? Are you a tolerant person?
  10. Is an international sporting event a good time to protest? Why or why not?
  11. What do rainbows mean to you?