Belgium captain Eden Hazard has criticised Germany for their protests ahead of their World Cup opener against Japan.
The four-time winners made the decision to not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband amid threats of sanctions, with the players proceeding to cover their mouths in their team photo in retaliation.
Germany were beaten in the end, with Japan winning lost 2-1, the second surprise result in as many days after Saudi Arabia’s victory against Argentina.
Other countries such as England, Wales and the Netherlands were also set to wear the armband to show support for the LGBTQ+ community amid Qatar’s laws on homosexuality, but they too decided not to.
Hazard disagreed with Germany’s public dig at FIFA, pointing out they lost the match.
“They would have done better not to do it and to win,” he said. “We are here to play football, I am not here to send a political message, people are better placed for that. We want to be focused on football.”
On the subject of the ‘One Love’ armband, the 31-year-old added: “I’m not comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football.
“I didn’t want to start the match with a yellow card,” he explained of the consequence of wearing the armband. “It would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament. To do it again, maybe I will postpone it.”
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England’s Harry Kane instead wore a ‘No Discrimination’ armband for their match against Iran on Monday.
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane thinks the players should have stuck to their guns.
“I think the players could have done it for the first game – took the punishment, whatever that might be,” he said.
“If it’s Kane you’re risking getting a yellow card but that would have been a great statement.
Hazard’s Belgium were able to scrape a 1-0 win against Canada on Wednesday night, with his former Chelsea teammate Michy Batshuayi netting the winner at the end of the first half.