A major supermarket chain has scrapped its advertising campaign with the German Football Association after the men’s national football team abandoned its plan to wear OneLove armbands at the World Cup.
The move by Rewe follows the decision by Germany and five other countries, including England and Wales, to announce their team captains would not be wearing the multi-coloured armbands because FIFA had told them players doing so could be booked.
Within hours of the announcement by the chain, which has group-wide sales of 76.5bn euros (£66bn), fellow sponsor Deutsche Telekom said it also planned talks with the German Football Association about the matter.
Rewe Group chief executive Lionel Souque said in a statement: “We stand up for diversity – and football is also diversity. We live this position and we defend it.
“FIFA’s scandalous attitude is absolutely unacceptable.”
Germany, England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark’s associations had said their team captains would wear the armband in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
But they issued a joint statement on Monday saying FIFA’s warning of “sporting sanctions” had prompted them to back down.
While FIFA has faced condemnation over its stance, the football associations have also been criticised for failing to stand up for their principles in the face of the prospect of yellow cards as a punishment.
The German association said on Tuesday that they were faced with “extreme blackmail”, and had dropped plans for players to wear the armband because it was unfair for them to shoulder the consequences.
Rewe said it had already informed the German Football Association in October it did not want to continue their partnership, but that after the armband decision it wanted to clearly distance itself from FIFA’s position and waive its advertising rights under the sponsorship agreement.
Rewe said it would start giving away World Cup-themed sticker albums available at its stores for free and donate proceeds from those already sold.
Saying it wanted to understand the reasoning behind the decision, a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom said: “We will soon talk with the DFB about the entire issue.”
On Sunday, the Sun newspaper reported that England sponsor Lucozade was pulling all its branding from the World Cup in a snub to Qatar.