European teams will not use LGBTQ badges at the World Cup after FIFA threats


Soccer teams representing seven European countries at the World Cup announced Monday that their captains will no longer wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar after FIFA, which organizes the tournament, said players who played the sport would be penalized.

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

“We were prepared to pay the fines normally applied to breaches of the equipment regulations and we have a strong obligation to wear the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they might be booked or even forced off the field,” the football associations said in a joint statement. Three of the teams – England, Wales and the Netherlands – were due to play on Monday.

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“We are deeply disappointed by FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented,” both teams added, pledging to show support for “inclusion” in other ways. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they can face sporting penalties including yellow cards.”

Qatar has come under scrutiny in the run-up to the tournament for its approach to human rights, including concerns about conditions for migrant workers and the conservative Arab Gulf state’s stance on LGBT people. A recent US State Department report stated that sex between men is prohibited in Qatar and punishable by up to seven years in prison.

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 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 armband. “Hours before the first match, FIFA made it (officially) clear to us that the captain would receive a yellow card if he wore the OneLove captain’s armband,” the country’s football association, KNVB, said in a statement. . “We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

“We support the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our first priority at the World Cup is to win matches. You don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card. That’s why we as the UEFA working group, the KNVB and as a team had to decide to abandon our plan.”

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Punishing team captains before matches begin would impose a competitive disadvantage from the start, as a second yellow card during a match results in a sending off.

While the basis for any possible sanctions by FIFA against players has not been announced, according to Article 4.3 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, no piece of clothing or equipment may be worn if it is deemed “dangerous, offensive or indecent” or contains “political or slogans”. religious or personal.

England captain Harry Kane said in September: “As captains we may all be pitted against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination.” “Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”

FIFA has rejected OneLove’s campaign and, according to the national soccer teams, has threatened to punish players who wear the armband. Instead, FIFA suggested that the national captains wear armbands from the separate “No Discrimination” campaign planned to start the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, world soccer said it had introduced the start of a “No Discrimination” campaign to allow all 32 national team captains to wear this armband throughout the entire tournament.

In a statement, the body said: “FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants to put football in the interest of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this must be done within the framework of the competition regulations that everyone knows.”

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

The Football Supporters Association, a group representing fans from 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 values ​​by awarding players a yellow card and a red card 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 “unfair” to the players, he would have worn the armband anyway.

“That would pose a bigger question and a bigger problem to FIFA than not wearing it, which I would do, if I could,” said Shearer.

And although the OneLove armband was not worn on the pitch, it was worn on the sidelines during the England-Iran match: Alex Scott, the former England women’s sports guru, wore the captain’s armband on Monday.

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