Before Germany’s catastrophic loss against Japan at the World Cup last year, they did a protest which came in the form of covering their mouths during the team photo. The action wasn’t popular among some. It was speculated that Bayern Munich teammates Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka were the ones behind it, but it turns out that it was just the latter.
According to a report from kicker (via Twitter account @iMiaSanMia), Bayern’s 27-year-old midfielder and his PR team managed to convince the team to do said protest before kick-off. As a result, Goretzka earned himself critics on both the national team and at club level.
This is not the first time we heard of some discourse taking place over players not agreeing on whether or not to make a statement. Sport1 (as covered here) reported that some of the players felt as if it had all become a distraction, while others simply just did not want to be bothered.
Later, Sport Bild (as covered here) put Goretzka in the crosshairs of some teammates for pushing to make a statement, along with some other reasons as well.
Goretzka is known for making his stance on political matters known such as celebrating with a heart gesture in front of Hungarian fans (who have been accused of being homophobic and racist) in their 2-2 draw in Euro 2021, visiting the Dachau Holocaust memorial, and calling the far-right Alternative for Germany party a “disgrace for Germany.”
While it’s great that he is aware of such matters and letting others be aware of it as well, it is not always received well by everyone — even teammates.