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    Ilkay Gundogan says ‘the politics are finished’ after Germany don’t repeat FIFA protest ahead of Spain draw

    Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says “the politics are finished” after his side did not repeat their protest against potential FIFA sanctions for wearing the OneLove captains’ armband ahead of their World Cup group stage draw against Spain.

    The Germany starting XI had covered their mouths in their team photo ahead of a 2-1 loss to Japan in protest at being “silenced”, a gesture which was not repeated on Sunday.

    Gundogan admitted his team-mates had been “mad with FIFA” but said after a 1-1 draw with Spain that he felt focus should now be on the football.

    “We had a few players who were mad with FIFA, because obviously there were things planned from the team,” Gundogan told The Athletic.

    “This (the wearing of the armband) getting disallowed just before the (Japan) game, a few players were disappointed and frustrated and wanted to show something. We had the discussion in the team and at the end it got decided that we’ll do this gesture against FIFA. If you do something, you do it as a team.

    “Honestly, my point of view is now the politics are finished.

    “We are here now and I think Qatar is very proud. The country of Qatar is very proud to host the World Cup — also as the first Muslim country, and I come from a Muslim family, so the Muslim community is proud.

    “Now it’s just about football — enjoying and celebrating — so that’s the most important thing.”

    The German FA (DFB) had confirmed on Wednesday that the original protest was the team’s idea.

    On Monday, England, Germany, the Netherlands and other European nations backed down from wearing the armband, which was intended to promote diversity and inclusion.

    The day before the tournament began, FIFA launched their own armband initiative. Captains were asked to wear a different armband on each match day, promoting social messages such as “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.

    Countries faced sanctions, including those of a sporting nature for wearing the original ‘One Love’ armband. This could have included — according to FIFA’s rulebook — players being given an automatic yellow card.

    A statement from the DFB said: “With our captain’s armband, we wanted to set an example for values that we live in the national team: diversity and mutual respect. Be loud together with other nations. This is not about a political message: human rights are non-negotiable.

    “That should go without saying. Unfortunately it still isn’t. That is why this message is so important to us. Banning us from the bandage is like banning our mouths. Our stance stands.”

    On Tuesday, The Athletic reported that the DFB were looking into going to the ad-hoc division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to ask for an injunction against any sporting sanctions by FIFA if the armband was worn by German players, and have explored their legal position on the matter.

    Asked at the pre-match press conference whether off-field issues and his players protesting had been a distraction, Flick said: “The main focus for me has been the football.

    “If you look at the last two tournaments [Euro 2020 and the 2018 World Cup] we didn’t do as well and we want to stop that happening. Tomorrow is the first final for us in this World Cup. This is what it’s all about. We want to prevent going out.”

    Germany are still in the hunt to reach the last 16 but must beat Costa Rica and hope Spain beat Japan.

    (Photo: ANP via Getty Images)

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