The World Cup captain ditched the One Love armband after being threatened with a FIFA ban

The World Cup captain ditched the One Love armband after being threatened with a FIFA ban

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Soccer teams representing seven European nations at the World Cup announced on Monday that their captains would not wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar, after FIFA, which hosts the tournament, said players sporting the bands would be punished.

The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland intended to wear the OneLove rainbow armband at the World Cup to promote diversity and inclusion.

“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a firm commitment to wearing armbands. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they could be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” the soccer associations said in a joint statement. Three teams – England, Wales and the Netherlands – were scheduled to play on Monday.

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“We are deeply disappointed by FIFA’s decision which we believe is unprecedented,” the teams added, pledging to show support for “inclusion” in other ways. “As a national federation, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face a sporting ban, including bookings.”

Qatar has come under scrutiny in the lead-up to the tournament over its approach to human rights, including concerns over the conditions of migrant workers and the conservative Gulf state’s stance towards LGBTQ people. According to the US State Department recently, sex between men is prohibited in Qatar and can be punished with up to seven years in prison. Report.

The OneLove campaign was originally conceived by the Dutch soccer team and initially 10 European teams signed up for it in September. They agreed that their captain would wear a rainbow armband to send a message against discrimination and promote inclusion.

The Dutch were the first to publicly announce that captain Virgil van Dijk would not wear the armband. The country’s football association KNVB said in a statement, “A few hours before the first game, we were made clear by FIFA (officially) that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘Onelove’ captain’s armband. . “We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

“We stand by the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our number one priority at the World Cup is to win games. You don’t want the captain to start the match with a yellow card. That is why it is with a heavy heart that the UEFA Working Group, the KNVB and us as a team had to decide to abandon the plan.”

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Penalizing team captains before the start of the game will impose a competitive disadvantage from the outset, leading to ejection with a second yellow card during a match.

Although the basis for possible FIFA bans against players has not been disclosed, according to Article 4.3 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, any item of clothing or equipment may not be worn if they are considered “dangerous, offensive or indecent” or include “political”. , religious or personal slogans.”

“As captains, we may all compete against each other on the field, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” England captain Harry Kane in September. “Wearing armbands together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message while the world is watching.”

FIFA has rejected the OneLove campaign and threatened to ban players wearing the armband, according to national football teams. Instead, FIFA proposed that national captains wear armbands from its separate “No Discrimination” campaign, starting with the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, DrThe global soccer body said it had launched its No Discrimination campaign to allow 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.

“FIFA is an inclusive organization that supports good and legitimate causes and wants to keep football for the benefit of society, but it should do so within the framework of competition rules that are known to all,” the organization said in a statement.

The Football Association of Wales expressed dismay and disappointment in a statement, but added, “We stand by the belief that football is for everyone and stand with our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family. Football is for everyone.”

The Football Supporters’ Association, a group representing fans in England and Wales, said in a statement that LGBTQ fans felt outraged and betrayed by FIFA’s decision.

“Today we feel contempt for an organization that has shown its true worth by yellow cards to players and red cards for tolerance,” the group said.

In an interview with BBC Radio, former England captain Alan Shearer said that while the timing of the decision was not “fair” to the players, he would have worn the armband anyway.

“It would create a bigger question and a bigger problem for FIFA than for them not to wear it, and that’s what I would do if I could,” Shearer said.

And although the Onelove armband was not worn on the pitch, it was worn on the sidelines during the England-Iran game: Alex Scott, an English sports pundit who previously played for the England women’s team, sported the armband on Monday.

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