August 4, 2020

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Germany may sanction soccer players for supporting Floyd

Schalke's Weston McKennie wears an armband reading "Justice for George". during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Bernd Thissen/pool via AP)

Schalke's Weston McKennie wears an armband reading "Justice for George". during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, May 30, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Bernd Thissen/pool via AP)

BERLIN - The German soccer federation has defended its decision to assess whether four young Bundesliga players who made gestures in solidarity with George Floyd over the weekend must face sanctions.

The DFB also said on Monday that Jadon Sancho’s booking for removing his jersey to reveal a T-shirt with the demand “Justice for George Floyd” had nothing to do with the message –- rather, the yellow card was issued because the 20-year-old England forward broke a rule that says players who celebrate goals by taking off their jerseys or lifting them over their heads must be booked for “unsporting behaviour.”

Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi, 21, who displayed the same message after scoring in the same game on Sunday, was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.

The DFB control committee is looking into their gestures and those made by Schalke’s 21-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie and Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 22-year-old French forward Marcus Thuram to see if the four players broke laws that prohibit players from displaying “political, religious or personal slogans.”

Achraf Hakimi Mouh of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

Achraf Hakimi Mouh of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal of the game during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

McKennie was the first to make a statement when he wore an armband with the handwritten message “Justice for George” around his left arm on Saturday.

Thuram on Sunday took a knee after scoring in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s win over Union Berlin.

Sancho and Hakimi followed suit later Sunday.

On Monday, after the DFB said it was assessing the players' actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.

Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.

DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.

“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”

Keller referred to meetings with victims of discrimination and representatives of organizations that have faced anti-Semetic, anti-Muslim or racist hostility, and said the DFB and German soccer was showing its clear rejection of all forms of racism, discrimination and violence.

Keller also praised both male and female players for taking a stand and showing their solidarity.

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his teams second goal of the game with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt during the German Bundesliga soccer match between SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (Lars Baron/Pool via AP)

“I’m proud of them. I can completely understand the actions from the weekend. Nobody can be indifferent to what happened in the United States,” Keller said.

Former Mainz forward Anthony Ujah was just given a warning by the DFB in 2014 in regard to the ban on political statements when he displayed a T-shirt with Eric Garner’s name and the words “can’t breathe” and “justice,” in reference to Garner’s death after a police officer placed him in what appeared to be a chokehold.

Now playing for Union Berlin, Ujah on Thursday tweeted a picture of his protest from the time, but with Floyd’s name typed above in bold.

Floyd also said “I can’t breathe” before he died.

“If the DFB's control committee wants to investigate, then I have to ask myself if we all have the same values,” Union sporting director Oliver Ruhnert said. “It's about a global issue here: The no to racism.”


More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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