World Cup captains drop One Love armbands after FIFA sanctions threat

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The soccer teams representing seven European nations at the World Cup announced on Monday that their captains would not wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar, after FIFA, which organizes the tournament, said the bands would not be worn. Players will be approved.

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

“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and were committed to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they are booked. or even force them to leave the field of play,” the football associations said in a joint statement. Three teams – England, Wales and the Netherlands – were scheduled to play on Monday.

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

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Qatar has come under scrutiny in the run-up to the tournament over its approach to human rights, including concerns over the plight of migrant workers and the conservative Gulf state’s stance on LGBTQ people. According to a recent US State Department report, sex between men in Qatar is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in prison.

The OneLove campaign was originally conceived by the Dutch football team, and the first 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. The country’s football association NVB said in a statement, “A few hours before the first game, we were (officially) made clear by FIFA that if the captain ‘wins’ the captain’s arm If he ties, he will get a yellow card. . “We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

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“We stand by the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our No. 1 priority at the World Cup is to win games. You don’t want a captain to start a match with a yellow card. That’s why it’s with a heavy heart. As a UEFA working group, the KNVB and as a team we had to decide to abandon our plan.

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Penalizing team captains before the start of the game will cause a competitive disadvantage from the outset, leading to a second yellow card during the match.

Although the basis for any potential FIFA sanctions against players has not been made public, according to Article 4.3 of FIFA’s equipment regulations, any item of clothing or equipment may not be worn if it is “dangerous, offensive or indecent”. deemed to contain or contain “political, religious or personal slogans;

“As captains, we can all compete with each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” England captain Harry Kane said in September. “Our teams wearing armbands together will send a clear message when the world is watching.”

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FIFA rejected the OneLove campaign and, according to national football teams, threatened to ban players wearing the armbands. Instead, FIFA has proposed that national captains arm themselves with a separate “no discrimination” campaign that it had planned to start with the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, soccer’s world body said it had brought forward the launch of its non-discrimination campaign to allow all 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.

“FIFA is an inclusive organization that seeks to bring football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but within the framework of competition rules that are known to all,” the body said in a statement. ” the body said in a statement.

The Football Association of Wales expressed their disappointment and dismay in a statement, but added, “We strongly believe that football is for everyone and stand with our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family.

“Soccer for all.”

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