The captains of several European teams will not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband at the World Cup in Qatar due to the risk of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales are set to take part in the ‘OneLove’ campaign to promote inclusion and oppose discrimination.
But the associations of those countries said in a statement on Monday that the driving armband – which features a heart striped in different colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities – will not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA [football’s global governing body] It was very clear that they would impose sporting sanctions if our captains wore armbands on the field of play,” the joint statement read.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they can face sporting penalties including booking, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear armbands at FIFA World Cup matches.”
“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply 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 pitch.”
The decision not to display the captaincy in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening match against Iran, while Wales face the United States and the Netherlands with Senegal later on Monday.
The nations said they were “disappointed” by what they called FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction captains for wearing the captain’s armband.
“We wrote to FIFA in September to inform them of our desire to wear the One Love badge to actively support integration into football, and have received no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways,” the statement continued.
France have been part of the season-long run, but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Football Association said on Monday that it was “very disappointed” that team captain Virgil van Dijk would receive a yellow card if he wore the captain’s armband on the pitch.
In the run-up to 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 LGBT rights.
A Human Rights Watch report published last month documented cases as far back as September in which Qatari security forces arbitrarily arrested LGBT people and subjected them to “ill-treatment in custody.”
However, the state insisted that “everyone is welcome” to the tournament, adding in a statement to CNN this month that “our track record has shown that we warmly welcome all people regardless of their background.”
A statement sent to CNN last week on behalf of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) which since its formation in 2011 has been responsible for overseeing infrastructure projects and planning for the World Cup, said it was committed to an “inclusive and discrimination-free World Cup,” referring to the fact That the country has hosted, according to her, hundreds of international and regional sporting events since winning the World Cup in 2010.
Around the same time that nations announced that their captains would not wear the captaincy in Qatar, FIFA introduced its own “No Discrimination” campaign and said that all 32 captains would have the opportunity to wear a badge associated with the campaign.
I have talked about this issue with the state [Qatar] FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at a news conference Saturday.
They confirmed, and I can confirm, that everyone is welcome. If anyone says otherwise, it is not the country’s opinion and certainly not FIFA’s.
Fifa’s decision to sanction players for wearing the “OneLove” armband nonetheless sparked outrage, with the Football Supporters’ Association, the national representative body for football fans in England and Wales, saying it “feels betrayed”.
“Since 2010, we have been asking questions about the suitability of Qatar to host the World Cup,” said a statement from the Free Syrian Army.
“Everyone can see this coming, and it’s amazing that on the morning of the opening match of the World Cup in England, FIFA is censoring players… who want to share a positive message.”