Germany won't punish players for George Floyd protests

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Moenchengladbach's Marcus Thuram taking the knee after scoring his side's second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Union Berlin in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. The German Bundesliga becomes the world's first major soccer league to resume after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)

FRANKFURT – As more players spoke out against racial discrimination and injustice, the German soccer federation said it will not punish those who protest against the killing of George Floyd.

The Bundesliga has seen several players feature messages on their clothing and make gestures since Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck.

The players' campaign grew online Wednesday with Schalke and U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie publishing a video which mixed footage of police officers using force against black people with clips of leading soccer players and other athletes saying: “Enough is enough.”

Chelsea and U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic took part in the video, as did Bayern Munich and Canada left back Alphonso Davies and Women's World Cup winner Mallory Pugh of the U.S.

The German soccer federation, known as the DFB, said earlier Wednesday it opposed punishing any players for on-field protests related to Floyd's death because it believes their anti-racism messages match the federation's own principles.

“The DFB has made a strong stand against any form of racism, discrimination or violence and stands for tolerance, openness and diversity, values which are also anchored in the DFB's statutes,” federation president Fritz Keller said in a statement. “Therefore the players' actions have our respect and our understanding.”

The statement named four players who protested during last weekend's games — Achraf Hakimi, Jadon Sancho, McKennie and Marcus Thuram — but made clear the same approach would apply to any future protests.

The federation has not revoked a yellow card given to Sancho. The federation said Monday that the Borussia Dortmund forward's booking was for the act of removing his shirt, rather than for the “Justice for George Floyd” message written on his undershirt during Sunday's 5-0 win over Paderborn.