World Cup Teams Abandon Anti-Discrimination Armbands After FIFA Threat

The captains of several European soccer teams will not wear the OneLove armband at the 2022 World Cup after FIFA said the players would be punished for it.

Anti-discrimination armbands are one of the ways players have decided to speak out against the ban on homosexuality in host country Qatar. The US Men’s Soccer team announced last week that it will display a rainbow-colored crest at its practice facility in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands will no longer wear armbands after FIFA told players they would be yellow-carded if they entered the field with the armband, ESPN reported. A second yellow card for the captain during the match can be a risk of suspension.

The teams wrote a joint statement explaining the decision.

“FIFA has made it very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear armbands on the field of play,” the statement read. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, which is why we have asked captains not to try to wear armbands at FIFA World Cup games.”

Teams say they are willing to pay fines for the armbands, but have refused to wear them after FIFA threatened next-match penalties. Article 4.3 of FIFA’s kit regulations states that clothing or equipment deemed “dangerous, offensive or obscene” or containing “political, religious or personal slogans” cannot be worn. The organization requires captains to wear a FIFA-issued armband.

“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally be imposed for uniform violations and we had a strong commitment to wearing armbands. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they can be penalized or even forced to leave the field of play,” the statement said.

“We are very disappointed by FIFA’s unprecedented decision — we wrote to FIFA in September, expressing our desire to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband to actively support inclusion in football, and have had no response. Our players and coaches. are strong supporters and will support in other ways.”

The OneLove campaign started with the Dutch soccer team and several other European teams followed suit. The Dutch were the first to refuse the item of clothing when FIFA informed them of the sanctions a few hours before the first match on Sunday.

“You don’t want the captain to start the match with a yellow card. That’s why we as the UEFA working group, the KNVB and the team decided to abandon our plan.” the team said in a statement.

FIFA, which offers a reciprocal option, announced on Monday that the “No Discrimination” captain’s armbands will be available to all teams throughout the tournament. The organization previously planned to launch the campaign during the quarter finals.

FIFA said in a statement: “FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants to put football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this must be done within the framework of well-known competition rules.”

The 2022 World Cup has been fraught with controversy not only over Qatar’s laws affecting the LGBTQ+ community, but also over the country’s human rights concerns surrounding the construction of the stadium. The Guardian reported last February that more than 6,500 migrant workers had died building infrastructure for the global athletics competition.

The Danish team wore black jerseys to mourn the migrant workers who died while building the facilities for the event, while the Australian team released a video demanding reparations for the migrant family workers. Earlier this month, FIFA reportedly rejected Denmark’s request to wear black shirts emblazoned with the words “Human rights for all”.

The group warned against political messages before the tournament began.

“Please, let’s focus on football now!” FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura wrote in a letter sent to the teams in early November. The duo also wanted “football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists”.

32 teams will participate in the cup until December 18. The event was previously held in Russia in 2018 and in Brazil in 2014.

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