Eden Hazard slams Germany and says better NOT to do OneLove gesture

World Cup: England fan wears Christian crusader fancy dress

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Belgium skipper Eden Hazard has suggested that Germany may have avoided their surprise World Cup defeat at the hands of Japan if they had stayed ‘focused on football’ rather than staging a protest against FIFA with their pre-match team photo. Germany were one of several nations to backtrack on their plans to wear a OneLove captain’s armband in Qatar earlier this week after FIFA threatened players with yellow cards if they decide to do so during the tournament.

Germany decided to stage a protest in response by posing for their team photo with their hands covering their mouths to imply that they have been silenced by FIFA, although the gesture did not precede a win for Hansi Flick’s side as they were surprisingly beaten by Japan. Hazard, who captained Belgium to a narrow victory over Canada on Wednesday evening, has since weighed in by suggesting that Germany should have prioritised winning their match against Japan rather taking a stance on the OneLove situation prior to kick-off.

When asked about Germany’s gesture, Hazard said: “Yes, but afterwards they lost the match. They would have done better not to do it and to win. We are here to play football, I am not here to send a political message, people are better placed for that. We want to be focused on football.”

Hazard did not wear the OneLove armband during Belgium’s win over Canada and insisted after the full-time whistle that he is not prepared to dwell on the controversy as he looks to remain entirely focused on helping his team to secure a maiden World Cup triumph over the next few weeks.

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“I’m not comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football,” he added. “We were banned for a bit, I didn’t want to start the match with a yellow card, it would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament. To do it again, maybe I will postpone it.”

England had planned for Harry Kane to wear the OneLove armband in their Group B opener against Iran but ultimately chose not to, with FIFA threatening on-pitch sanctions just hours before kick-off at the Khalifa International Stadium. Their decision to go back on their word has sparked plenty of backlash from fans and pundits alike, with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) releasing a strongly-worded statement to express their frustrations in no uncertain terms.

It read: “Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance. Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure.

“No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup. Since 2010 we have been raising questions about the suitability of Qatar as a World Cup host.

“Everyone could see this coming and it’s astonishing that, on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, FIFA are censoring players and the nine national FAs – including the FA and FAW – who wish to share a positive message.”

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