The captains of several European teams will not wear “OneLove” bracelets at the World Cup in Qatar due to the risk of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales would participate in the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and combat discrimination.
But those countries’ associations said in a statement Monday that the bracelet — featuring a striped heart in different colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities — would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the joint statement read.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup matches.”
“We were willing to pay fines that would normally apply to kit rule violations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they are shown a yellow card or even forced to leave the field of play,” the statement said.
The decision not to show the armband in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening game against Iran, while Wales face the US later on Monday and the Netherlands face Senegal.
The nations said they were “frustrated” by what they described as FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to penalize captains for wearing the armband.
“We wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our desire to wear the One Love bracelet to actively support inclusion in football, but we received no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong advocates of inclusion and will show support in other ways,” the statement continued.
In the run-up to the World Cup, Qatar — where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison — has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly stressed that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament.
France was part of the season’s campaign, but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters he would “respect” local culture during the tournament.
The Dutch Football Association said on Monday that it was “deeply disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would receive a yellow card if he wore the armband on the field.