DFB gesture celebrated, but ...: This silence does not break the power of FIFA

The German national football players demonstratively cover their mouths for the team photo immediately before the start of the World Cup game against Japan.

DFB gesture celebrated, but ...: This silence does not break the power of FIFA

The German national football players demonstratively cover their mouths for the team photo immediately before the start of the World Cup game against Japan. A good sign, but also a missed opportunity.

FIFA was probably afraid that their power would not be enough to bring German football to its knees. When the national team lined up for a photo before the World Cup opening game against Japan, the world director relied on other scenes. But what the DFB players had come up with as a protest against the Mafia's prohibition policy with "pressure" and "intimidation" (according to DFB President Bernd Neuendorf) should be very likely for the world association and its boss Gianni Infantino, who was so aggressive and uninhibited by any moral concepts noted with relief. No "One Love" bandage on Captain Manuel Neuer's arm - only on that of German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser in the stands. No rainbow either.

After the first days of the World Cup in permanent escalation mode, the next stage was feared. After the DFB and six other European associations buckled under what they described as massive pressure from FIFA, which they themselves see differently and advertise publicly, the German association switched its rhetoric from disappointment and anger back to a cautious attack after heavy criticism from home. The words of DFB director Oliver Bierhoff and national coach Hansi Flick before the first kick-off suggested that there would be a sign against FIFA's "censorship" of opinion. But again, public expectations were greater than the evaluation of the deeds.

The German players had collectively put their hand in front of their mouth for the team photo - whoever forbids us the "One Love" bandage, forbids us to shut up, that's how the gesture should be understood. The DFB gave the appropriate explanation via Twitter. And as soon as this gesture was in the world - by photo, not in the live image, there was a wild war of opinions on social media (yes, be careful with this word in these times), whether that was a strong, a weak or even a pathetic sign the German footballer was.

Assessing this is a matter of perspective. Yes, the action doesn't seem particularly courageous, what would the national team have been celebrated for if they had worn the bandage on their arm. On Neuer's arm or on the arms of the other ten footballers. What would have embarrassed the (yes, too pathetic) referee to enforce FIFA's sanctions. And on what basis anyway. There would have been a lot of potential in this campaign. And no matter what threatened the German team, there would only have been one loser: FIFA and their disgraced boss Infantino, who was a guest at the stadium.

One would have loved to have expected the anger reaction of the world association. Throw Germany out of the tournament as a "ultima ratio"? Nothing would have done more harm to this World Cup, which has so unbearably heroized FIFA, than such an exclusion. And thinking further: If the six other nations had followed suit, Infantino would not have been the hero and football saint he would like to be, but would have gone down in the history books of sport as the person responsible for the biggest and most embarrassing failure. A highly deserved place after all the scandals of the past few weeks, months and years. As it is, however, Infantino is allowed to feel like an imperator, counted out by the gladiators in the arena, but not curtailed in his power.

But was the sign really too weak? Can't it also be seen as the best compromise in a power game with unknown sanctions and threats? Yes, of course you can. The message is unmistakable, the picture in the world. The team is celebrated abroad. The international media showered the team with praise. Yes, the gesture is in the world forever and has a lasting effect. Just like that of the silent Iranians during the national anthem. As a protest against the cold-blooded regime at home - with unforeseeable consequences and repression (despite all assurances that there will be none). And yes, if these two forms of protest appear against each other, then Germany loses, then the action seems despondent - despite a sign that at least one thing is not: pathetic.

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