Moenchengladbach's Marcus Thuram taking the knee after scoring his side's second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Union Berlin in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. The German Bundesliga becomes the world's first major soccer league to resume after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)

Germany won't punish players for George Floyd protests

June 03, 2020 - 9:15 am

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The German soccer federation will not punish players who protest against the killing of George Floyd and racism.

Several players in Germany have made statements with gestures or messages on their clothing since Floyd died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck.

The federation, known as the DFB, said Wednesday it opposed punishing any players because it believes their anti-racism messages match the federation's own principles.

“The DFB has made a strong stand against any form of racism, discrimination or violence and stands for tolerance, openness and diversity, values which are also anchored in the DFB's statutes,” federation president Fritz Keller said in a statement. “Therefore the players' actions have our respect and our understanding.”

The statement named four players who protested during last weekend's games — Achraf Hakimi, Jadon Sancho, Weston McKennie and Marcus Thuram — but made clear the same approach would apply to any future protests.

The federation has not revoked a yellow card given to Sancho. The federation said Monday that the Borussia Dortmund forward's booking was for the act of removing his shirt, rather than for the “Justice for George Floyd” message written on his undershirt during Sunday's 5-0 win over Paderborn.

Other players protested by kneeling, like Thuram, or by showing messages on an armband, like McKennie, or on boots, like Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams. Only Sancho received a booking.

There were also social media statements, such as one from United States national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who is on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf but isn't playing because of injury.

Germany's approach has the backing of FIFA. The governing body of world soccer said Tuesday that such demonstrations “deserve an applause and not a punishment.”

Hungary has taken a different approach. Its soccer league gave a written reprimand to a player of African origin, Tokmac Nguen, who displayed a message in solidarity with Floyd after scoring a goal for Ferencvaros on Sunday.

UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, is also set to allow messages related to Floyd and anti-racism when the Champions League resumes.

Players are normally prohibited from espousing their views during a match. The laws of the game state that “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment is forbidden.

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