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Belgium Star After Germany Protest: We're Here To Play Football, Not Send A Political Message

Germany protests FIFA after abandoning anti-discrimination OneLove initiative.

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 23: Germany squad poses for team photo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium on November 23, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Heuler Andrey/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Germany's players sent a message to FIFA prior to their opening World Cup match against Japan on Wednesday. 

The starters for Germany's squad covered their mouths for their team photo. This was their way of protesting FIFA's decision to abandon the anti-discrimination OneLove initiative.

"It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA is muzzling us," Germany coach Hansi Flick said following Wednesday's match. 

Belgium captain Eden Hazard was asked to share his thoughts on Germany's protest. He believes the national team would've been better off winning their match instead of sending a "political message" to FIFA. 

"Yes but afterwards, they lost the match," Hazard said. "They would have been better off not doing it and winning.

"We're here to play football. I'm not here to pass on a political message, there are people who are better placed for that. We want to be concentrated on the football."

FIFA actually threatened team captains with a yellow card if they wore the OneLove armband on the field. 

It's important to note that same-sex relationships are criminalized in Qatar. That's why the OneLove initiative has been a controversial topic for the 2022 World Cup. 

Germany will return to the pitch on Sunday to face Spain.