German federation taking no action against anti-Qatar banner

MÖNCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) — The German soccer federation will not take any action against people who displayed a banner calling for a boycott of the World Cup in Qatar during the team’s Nations League match against Italy.

The federation, known as the DFB, referred to a police statement on Wednesday that says the demonstrators’ action is deemed to be covered by freedom of expression and “not criminally relevant.”

Shortly after the start of Tuesday’s match, a group of demonstrators held a huge banner saying “15,000 dead for big venues — FIFA and Co. without a conscience! Boycott Qatar.”

The group then left the stadium, giving rise to suspicions that the participants may have acted illegally and were planning further actions, Mönchengladbach police said in their statement.

After a tip off from stadium security staff, police stopped the group outside and asked the individuals for personal identification “to protect any civil claims made by the organizer (the DFB),” the police said.

“After that, everyone was released,” police said. “During a subsequent consultation, the DFB informed the Mönchengladbach police that the DFB would not take any criminal or association-related steps and that the personal details would not be transmitted. The Mönchengladbach police also took no further action.”

Germany won the match 5-2.

Banners against the World Cup in Qatar — which has been criticized for its human rights record — have been a common sight at German soccer games.

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