BERLIN – Volkswagen said it will continue to sponsor the German Football Association (DFB), but the automaker has criticized World Cup organizer FIFA, the global sports governing body, for its virtual ban on the one-love armband.
“We do not intend to end our sponsorship,” VW said when asked by NDR. “There have been many good developments at the DFB in recent months. And we want to continue working together with the DFB on positive changes in football as a whole in the future.”
However, the behavior of FIFA, which announced it would sanction players who wore the “One Love” armband during their matches at the World Cup in Qatar, was “unacceptable,” VW said.
VW would have welcomed “if the European associations had set such a visible sign of diversity at this tournament,” said the carmaker in a statement. “The discussions and reactions show that something fundamental needs to change in world football.”
The “One Love” campaign was a joint campaign announced in September by teams from Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Wales, France, Denmark, as well as Norway and Sweden, both of which are not competing for the World Cup qualified.
The colorful captain’s armband should be worn at the World Cup as a symbol of equality and freedom of expression.
The armband is controversial in Qatar, which has been criticized for disregarding human rights standards.
The German food chain Rewe has already ended its cooperation with the DFB due to the Fifa decision. Other DFB sponsors such as Telekom, the van Laack fashion brand, Adidas and Coca-Cola will also stick to their partnership.
“We don’t believe in hasty decisions and first have to understand the background to the DFB’s decision. That’s why we will discuss the entire topic with the DFB in a timely manner,” said a Telekom spokesman when asked by the German Press Agency.
“Basically, Telekom stands for what connects people, societies and cultures. It does not tolerate discriminatory acts, unethical and immoral behavior, or violation of the dignity or rights of others.”
In 2021, VW added rainbow colors to its advertising banners during the Euro 2020 football tournament to show its support for diversity and LGBT rights.
The decision followed tournament promoter UEFA’s refusal to allow Munich city authorities to illuminate the city’s Allianz Arena with the rainbow flags during Germany’s game against Hungary.
Munich’s mayor wanted to light up the Allianz Arena with the rainbow colors typically associated with the LGBT movement to protest the Hungarian government’s new law banning the sharing of content deemed to promote homosexuality and gender reassignment for under 18 year olds apply.
UEFA turned down the mayor’s request, saying it could not support “political” messages.