Berlin (AFP) – Bundesliga players including Jadon Sancho who staged protests during matches following the death of black American man George Floyd will not be punished, the German Football Federation said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the DFB said “no action” would be taken against Borussia Dortmund players Sancho and Achraf Hakimi, Schalke’s US midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Moenchengladbach’s French forward Marcus Thuram for “their symbols of solidarity”.
“This line will also be taken should further players make demonstrations on racism and the death of Floyd over the course of upcoming matchdays,” the DFB added.
After scoring in Dortmund’s win at Paderborn on Sunday, England winger Sancho lifted his shirt to reveal the message “Justice for George Floyd”. He was booked, but for lifting his shirt over his head rather than for the message.
Hakimi and McKennie expressed similar calls for justice, while Frenchman Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, took a knee after scoring for Gladbach in memory of Floyd, echoing similar protests against police brutality started by NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
“I welcome the far-sighted decision from the DFB’s control body and am very pleased with it,” said DFB chief Fritz Keller.
“The DFB is opposed to all forms of racism, discrimination and violence, and stands for tolerance, openness and diversity.”
– ‘Players merit applause’ –
On Tuesday, FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said that players demanding justice for Floyd should be applauded.
The DFB had launched their investigation into the players’ tributes following guidelines from the sport’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board.
IFAB bans players from showing “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images”.
However, pointing to its own anti-racism campaigns, FIFA intimated before Infantino’s comments that no action should necessarily be taken against Sancho, Hakimi or McKennie.
“The application of the laws of the game approved by the IFAB is left for the competitions organisers which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events,” FIFA said
Floyd’s death after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes has sparked eight days of protests in US cities, some of which have turned violent amid accusations of further police brutality used against demonstrators.
Standoffs between police and protestors stretched into the night in cities from New York to Los Angeles, even though there were fewer reports of the looting and violence from previous nights.
There has also been fierce reaction from sports figures in the USA and elsewhere, with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton on Tuesday saying that he was “completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our (black) people”.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan said he was “plain angry” at what he called “ingrained racism” in the United States.
Teenage tennis star Coco Gauff asked a simple question in an Instagram post: “Am I next?”