World Cup captains drop One Love bracelets after threat of FIFA sanctions

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Football teams representing seven European countries at the World Cup announced on Monday that their captains will not wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar after FIFA, which hosts the tournament, said players playing with the bands would face sanctions.

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

“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 football associations said in a joint statement. Three of the teams, England, Wales and the Netherlands, were scheduled to play on Monday.

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“We are very frustrated with the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented,” the teams added, vowing to show their support for “inclusion” in other ways. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings.”

Qatar has come under scrutiny in the run-up to the tournament for its approach to human rights, including concerns about the conditions of migrant workers and the conservative Persian Gulf state’s attitude towards LGBTQ people. According to a recent report by the US State Department, sex between men is illegal in Qatar and carries a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Originally conceived by the Netherlands national football team, 10 European teams initially signed up for the OneLove campaign in September – agreeing that their captains 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 bracelet. “Hours before the first match, it was made clear to us by FIFA (officially) that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband,” the KNVB said in a statement. it has not been possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

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

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Penalizing team captains before games start would be a competitive disadvantage from the start. With a second during a match that brings ejection.

While the basis of any FIFA sanctions against players has not been made public, according to Article 4.3 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, no clothing or equipment may be worn if it is considered “dangerous, offensive or indecent, including political, religious or personal slogans.” ”

“As captains we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but together we stand against all forms of discrimination,” England captain Harry Kane said in September. “Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear signal as the world watches.”

FIFA rejected the OneLove campaign and threatened sanctions against players wearing the armband, according to national football teams. Instead, FIFA has proposed that national captains wear armbands from the separate ‘No Discrimination’ campaign it planned to begin with the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, the global football body said it had brought forward the start of its anti-discrimination campaign to allow all 32 national captains to wear that armband throughout the tournament.

“FIFA is an inclusive organization that aims to put football at the service of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but it must do so within the framework of competition rules known to all,” the body said in a statement.

The Football Association of Wales expressed frustration and disappointment in a statement, but added: “We continue to believe that football is for everyone and stand behind our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family.

“Football for everyone.”

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