Australia stops short of FIFA boss support


Australia refrained from declaring unequivocal support for the beleaguered FIFA president as European nations dramatically escalated protests at the World Cup.

German players covered their mouths in a pre-match photo on Wednesday in a direct message to FIFA for silencing the human rights debate at the cup in Qatar.

“It was a sign from the team, from us, that FIFA was muzzling us,” German coach Hansi Flick told reporters.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who is also responsible for sport, also wore a OneLove armband in the grandstand as she sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

Fans have been banned from entering stadiums in Doha while wearing rainbow colors signifying support for same-sex relationships, which are illegal in Qatar.

But Faeser wore the armband under a pink blazer which she took off during the match.

The captains of seven European nations have been threatened by FIFA with yellow cards if they go ahead with pre-tournament plans to wear OneLove armbands at the cup.

The move infuriated nations and human rights groups and followed Infantino calling Western nations hypocrites for criticizing Qatar.

Denmark vowed on Wednesday not to vote for Infantino when he runs for FIFA presidency next year.

But Football Australia chief executive James Johnson backed down from a similar stance.

“We are not in a position at this time to decide that, we don’t have to,” Johnson told reporters.

“At this stage, I understand that only President Infantino will appear.

“He will run without being elected, so I’m not sure there will be a decision to be made.

“But in the event that there is a contested election, we will ask the candidates what their vision is.”

The Socceroos released a video message last month calling on Qatar to decriminalize same-sex relationships and also describing recent workplace reforms in the Middle Eastern nation as inconsistent.

Governments in some countries have boycotted the cup, but Australian Sports Minister Anika Wells has held talks with the Qatari government since last Sunday.

“We believe in open dialogue and we think we have to show up to have it,” Wells told reporters on Wednesday.

“So I came forward to take over Australia’s seat at the table and to have that open dialogue.

“There was no need for me to tell the Qatari government about the Socceroos video, which had obviously been released around the world.”

Wells said the Qatari government wanted wider recognition of recent reform progress in the strict Islamic nation.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I have made it clear…we recognize the progress that has been made,” she said.

“There’s more to do, but I really feel like we had a constructive and candid discussion about it…I was quite surprised at how humble, honest and constructive they were about it. .

“I told them what was told to me very clearly in Australia, which is that Australians want to do more.

“…I put this in the larger context of what is the case for all of us, we could all do more to advance human rights.

“And that global scrutiny will turn to us in July next year (when) we host the Women’s World Cup.”

Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine, who featured in the Socceroos video, hoped hosting the Women’s World Cup would spark human rights scrutiny in his country.

“People talk about the hypocrisy of these issues (in Qatar) but don’t talk about the ones that happen back home,” Irvine told reporters.

“Hopefully it’s something we continue to explore in the future as we grow as a team and as individuals. It’s something to consider moving forward. before.”

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