Germany may sanction players for supporting George Floyd

BERLIN (AP) — The German Football Federation (DFB) 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, 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”.

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

Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho celebrates scoring his team’s second goal of the game with a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ t-shirt during the Bundesliga match against Paderborn. PHOTO: AP

Thuram took a knee after scoring in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s win over Union Berlin. Sancho and Hakimi followed suit later.

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.

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 organisations that have faced anti-Semetic or racist hostility, and said the DFB and German football 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.

“I’m proud of them. I can completely understand the actions from the weekend,” Keller said.