Nov 21, 2022 - World

World Cup teams ditch plans to wear rainbow armbands after FIFA threats

England's Harry Kane with UEFA One Love armband

England captain Harry Kane with a "one love" armband on Sept. 23. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Seven European World Cup teams have abandoned plans to wear rainbow "one love" armbands in a show of inclusion and anti-discrimination after FIFA threatened that players who did so would face sporting sanctions, the soccer associations said in a joint statement Monday.

Driving the news: The captains of England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales had previously voiced their intent to wear the anti-discrimination armbands during their matches at the World Cup in Qatar.

  • FIFA informed the teams of the associated sanctions, which would include automatic yellow cards, on Sunday, per the Wall Street Journal.

What they're saying: "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.

  • "We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play," it said.
  • "We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented — we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response."
  • "Our players and coaches are disappointed — they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

The Football Association of Wales said on Twitter that it was "frustrated" and disappointed."

  • "But we remain with the belief that football is for everyone and stand with our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family," it added.

The other side: FIFA had announced before the World Cup's opening that it would have seven different armbands available for each round of the tournament promoting different social causes, per ESPN.

  • FIFA announced in a statement Monday that it would allow its "no discrimination" armband to be worn by captains throughout the whole tournament, instead of just at the quarterfinals.
  • "This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which state: 'For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each Team must wear the captain's armband provided by FIFA,'" FIFA added.

The big picture: Qatar's hosting of the World Cup has been shrouded in controversy for years on account of its human rights record and the environmental costs of holding the tournament in the region.

  • Several European countries took steps to protest Qatar's hosting of the tournament in the lead-up to its opening.
  • The news that the team captains would not wear the "one love" armbands came hours before several of the teams — England, Wales and the Netherlands — are set to play their first matches of the tournament.
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