Several European team captains will not be wearing OneLove headbands at the World Cup in Qatar due to the risk of yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales were to take part in the OneLove campaign to promote inclusion and counter discrimination.
But the associations of those countries said in a statement on Monday that the armband with a striped heart of different colors, representing all heritage, lineage, gender and sexual identity, would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA [football’s global governing body] It was very clear that sporting sanctions would be imposed if our captains wore armbands on the playing field,” the joint statement said.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including warnings, which is why we have asked captains not to attempt to wear armbands in World Cup games.”
“We were willing to pay the fines that normally apply for equipment violations and were firmly committed to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they can be warned or even forced to leave the field,” the statement said.
The decision not to display the armband in Qatar was made hours before England’s first game against Iran and the Netherlands’ game against Senegal later on Monday. Wales are currently playing with the USA.
The countries said they were “disappointed” by what they called FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction captains if they wear armbands.
“In September, we wrote to FIFA informing them of our desire to wear the One Love headband to actively promote inclusiveness in football and received no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will provide support in other ways,” the statement said.
Qatari LGBTQ activist: They play football over our graves
– Source: CNN
England manager Gareth Southgate said FIFA’s position should have been cleared up sooner.
“I understand the FIFA situation in that you can set a precedent and then it’s very difficult, where do you draw the line?” This Southgate said at a press conference after the victory of England over Iran with a score of 6:2.
“I think in an ideal world before the situation would have been much clearer, but that’s not what distracted us because we, as I said yesterday, should have focused on football, you know, there is so much. something else is happening, but we cannot participate in it,” he added.
“People know what we stand for,” Southgate said. “People know this group of players, you know, we get on our knees because we feel we can make a difference. And there are some things that I’m not sure we can change, and so we have to put our energy in the right direction.”
France took part in the season’s campaign, but captain Hugo Lloris told reporters last week that he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Football Association said on Monday it was “deeply disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would receive a yellow card if he wore an armband on the pitch.
Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans called the decision “shameful” ahead of the opening of the World Cup on Wednesday.
Tielemans said: “I just wish it wasn’t happening because it’s just a fight against discrimination all over the world, not just here, but in Europe and elsewhere. And I just think it’s a shame that it’s not happening and we just need to get away from it.”
Tielemans’ Belgian teammate Thomas Meunier said FIFA deliberately waited to announce the ban. “I think this is a smart move on the part of FIFA, because they already knew that this would lead to protests and a lot of words and interviews, and of course negative words about Qatar,” said the defender.
“So it was best for them to wait until the last moment to gather everyone in the country, and then make a decision and apply the rules that they want to apply. There are no rules for everyone.”
Ahead of 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.
A Human Rights Watch report released last month documented cases in which Qatari security forces arbitrarily arrested LGBT people and subjected them to “ill-treatment in detention” in September.
However, the country insists that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our track record has shown that we have warmly welcomed all people, regardless of background.”
A statement sent to CNN last week on behalf of the High Committee on Delivery and Heritage (SC), which has been in charge of overseeing infrastructure projects and World Cup planning since its inception in 2011, said it is committed to “an inclusive and non-discrimination the World Cup, pointing to the fact that the country, he said, has hosted hundreds of international and regional sporting events since the World Cup was awarded in 2010.
Before countries announced that their captains would not wear armbands in Qatar, FIFA launched its own “No Discrimination” campaign and stated that all 32 captains would be able to wear campaign-related armbands.
“I spoke on this topic with the leadership of the country. [Qatar] top management,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at a press conference on Saturday.
“They have confirmed, and I can confirm, that everyone is welcome. If someone says the opposite, then this is not the opinion of the country and certainly not the opinion of FIFA.
But FIFA’s decision to sanction players for wearing the “OneLove” armband nevertheless sparked anger as the Football Fans’ Association, the representative body of football fans in England and Wales, said it “feels betrayed”.
“Since 2010, we have been raising questions about whether Qatar is suitable to host the World Cup,” the FSA said in a statement.
“Everyone could have foreseen this to happen and it’s amazing that on the morning of the opening day of the World Cup in England, FIFA censors players … who want to share a positive message.”
Meanwhile, Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, noted that “agreements on armbands and better protection of LGBT communities should have been reached a long time ago.”
Qatar dismissed the OneLove armband dispute as a matter between FIFA and international teams, reiterating that “all are welcome” regardless of “orientation”.
“Everything that happens on the pitch is FIFA business,” said SC spokeswoman Fatma Al Nuaimi Becky Anderson of CNN Doha.
“There is nothing to comment on here, I think it is between… the teams and FIFA directly,” Al Nuaimi said.
In response to players displaying forms of protest at Qatar 2022, including the England team taking a knee and Iranian players choosing not to sing the national anthem in support of the protests at home, Al Nuaimi said the World Cup is a “platform” for the people . express their “values and beliefs”.