BERLIN -- Volkswagen said it will continue to sponsor the German Football Association (DFB), but the automaker criticized World Cup organizer FIFA, the sports global governing body, for its quasi-ban on the One Love armband.
"We do not intend to end our sponsorship," VW said when asked by German news outlet NDR. "There have been many good developments at the DFB in recent months. And we want to continue working with the DFB in the future on positive changes in soccer as a whole."
However, the behavior of FIFA, which had announced it would sanction players who wore the "One Love" armband during their games at the World Cup in Qatar, was "unacceptable," VW said.
VW would have welcomed "if the European federations had sent such a visible signal for diversity at this tournament," the automaker said in a statement. "The discussions and reactions show that something fundamental urgently needs to change in world soccer."
The "One Love" campaign was a joint campaign announced in September by the teams from Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Wales, France, Denmark, as well as Norway and Sweden, neither of which qualified for the World Cup.
The colorful captain's armband was to be worn at the World Cup as a symbol of equality and freedom of expression.
The armband is controversial in Qatar, which has been criticized for disregarding human rights standards.
The German grocery store chain Rewe has already terminated its cooperation with the DFB due to the FIFA decision. Other DFB sponsors including Telekom, fashion brand van Laack, Adidas and Coca-Cola will all stick to their partnership.
"We do not believe in making hasty decisions and must first understand the background to the DFB's decision. That is why we will discuss the entire issue with the DFB in a timely manner," a Telekom spokesperson said when asked by Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
"In principle, Telekom stands for what unites people, societies and cultures. It does not tolerate discriminatory acts, unethical and immoral behavior or the violation of the dignity or rights of others."
In 2021, VW added rainbow colors to its advertising banners during the Euro 2020 soccer tournament to show its support for diversity and LGBT rights.
The decision followed tournament organizers UEFA's refusal to allow Munich city authorities to light up the city's Allianz Arena stadium with the rainbow flags during Germany’s game against Hungary.
Munich's mayor had wanted to use the rainbow colors, typically associated with the LBGT movement, to illuminate the Allianz Arena in protest at the Hungarian government's new law that bans the sharing of any content seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change to under-18s.
UEFA refused the mayor's request, saying it could not support "political" messages.