How are World Cup teams in Qatar protesting?

In addition to the action on the pitch that has captivated fans around the world, the 2022 World Cup is also an important headline for incidents off the pitch.

The decision to award Qatar the rights to host the tournament more than a decade ago was met with numerous controversies due to allegations of bribery, labor conditions and human rights law.

Since the tournament began on November 20, the first week has seen many countries express their grievances while making the most of the attention to highlight other political issues.

In case you missed it, here’s what came to light as the tournament unfolded and the teams steered clear of major statements.


Early in the tournament, the Iranian national team made headlines after refusing to sing the national anthem before kicking off their opening match against England.

The protest is related to political struggles in Iran as the country is going through fierce protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by Iran’s ethics police.

Iran’s opening match ended in a 6–2 defeat, and the following game turned the tide in the second match against Wales, which they won 2–0.

The players reversed the original decision and this time sang the national anthem. Fans continued to show mixed signs of support and opposition with the image of Amini appearing all over the stands.

Iran takes on the United States on Tuesday in what is expected to be a fiery clash on and off the field. Monday’s pre-match media missions saw politics, immigration, naval warfare, racism, discrimination, xenophobia and ultimately football discussed .


The captains of seven European nations including Germany, England and the Netherlands got ready to wear “One Love” armbands during matches to protest Qatar’s mistreatment of LGBTQ2S+ individuals.

However, FIFA decided just hours before the match started that any captain wearing the politically motivated captain’s armband would automatically receive a yellow card.

Seven European countries later reversed their decision.

“Our number one priority at the World Cup is to win the matches,” the Dutch football federation said. “Then you don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card.”

Since then, no player has actually worn the “One Love” armband on the pitch. Instead, several players, including England’s Harry Kane, wore the “No Discrimination” captain’s armband.

Additionally, Qatar’s security teams at the stadiums initially removed any rainbow items from the fans. According to a report from the Independent last Friday, that decision has now been reversed.


Following proposals for sanctions from FIFA over the “One Love” armband, Germany continued to express disapproval of Qatar’s human rights record in a quiet protest.

In the opening game against Japan, where they were shocked with a 2-1 scoreline, the team photo featured all 11 players starting to cover their mouths in protest.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: “We may be stripped of the strap, but we will never let our voices be taken away. “We stand for human rights. That’s what we want to show. We may be silenced by FIFA about the captain’s armband, but we always defend our values.”

The image gained attention and received much criticism from other teams. In particular, Belgium’s Eden Hazard thinks Germany might “be better off not doing it (the rally) and winning it instead.”

Germany did not repeat the move in their second game against Spain as midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said on Monday that he believes “politics is over.”

“It’s just about football now – enjoy and celebrate – so that’s the most important thing,” he said.

With files from The Associated Press

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