Eden Hazard was critical of Germany’s pre-game gesture against Japan, which saw the starting XI cover their mouths after being prevented from wearing the ‘One Love’ armband to denounce the threat of FIFA sanctions.
The Real Madrid forward claimed, according to RMC Sport, that the four-time world champion might have made a better impression if he had focused more on winning the game than making an in-game statement.
Players had been warned not to wear OneLove armbands at a tournament being held in a country with a questionable human rights record and Hazard admitted he didn’t want to risk being automatically booked a yellow card.
“Yes, but after that they lost the game,” said Hazard when asked for his opinion on the German team’s gesture on Wednesday.
“You would have been better off not doing it and winning. We’re here to play football, I’m not here to send a political message.
“People are better suited for that. We want to focus on football.”
Several European nations, including England and Wales, had agreed to wear OneLove armbands at the tournament to promote integration in football.
However, on the eve of England’s opening game against Iran on Monday, FIFA ruled that sporting sanctions would be imposed on those who wore the armbands, prompting teams to switch back to regular armbands.
However, Hansi Flick’s Germany side quickly took the initiative and issued a statement of their own to show their feelings on the matter.
While Germany lost their opening game in shocking circumstances, Hazard’s Belgium narrowly escaped a similar fate against Canada.
Although Divock Origi scored the only goal of the game at the end of the first half, Canada dominated the duel.
Starman Alphonso Davies missed an early penalty that proved to be his side’s best chance. An erratic finish and a lack of composure in the final third were the only things separating Belgium from an embarrassing opening result.
Players who flouted FIFA’s ruling were warned that one of the possible penalties would be starting matches with a yellow card.
While under normal circumstances a warning in exchange for spreading a message of solidarity might not seem like too harsh a punishment, players will face a one-game ban for seeing consecutive yellow cards.
“I don’t feel comfortable talking about it because I’m here to play football,” Hazard added.
“We were suspended for a while… I didn’t want to start the game with a yellow card, that would have been annoying for the rest of the tournament.
“To do it again, I might postpone it.”