Arsene Wenger has intimated that Germany's "political demonstration" prior to their opening World Cup match against Japan was a factor in the four-time winners’ elimination in the group stage in Qatar.
Germany’s players covered their mouths in their team photo prior to the game in protest at a FIFA directive that warned players who wore OneLove armbands in support of the LGBT+ community would be penalised.
Germany lost the match 2-1 and despite going on to draw with Spain and beat Costa Rica, they were knocked out of the tournament after finishing third in Group E.
Wenger, who is FIFA’s chief of global football development, said teams that did not proceed with planned protests fared notably better in their opening matches.
He told a FIFA technical briefing in Qatar: "Going to a World Cup, you know you have not to lose the first game.
"Other teams who have experience and have results in former tournaments like France, England and Brazil, they played well in the first game.
"And the teams as well who were mentally ready, that had the mindset to focus on competition and not on political demonstrations."
Six European nations, including England and Wales, had planned to wear the OneLove armbands to highlight the fact that homosexuality remains illegal in the host country.
Following the FIFA directive, the Danish Football Association indicated it will no longer vote for FIFA president Gianni Infantino in future elections.
Iran's players also showed solidarity with protestors in their country but refusing to sing the national anthem ahead of their opening 6-2 loss to England.