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 Monday that their captains will not wear LGBTQ armbands in Qatar, after FIFA, which organizes the tournament, said players wearing the armbands would be sanctioned.

The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, 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 that normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and we had a strong commitment to wearing the strip. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they will be punished or even forced to leave the field,” said the joint statement of the football associations. Three of the teams – England, Wales and the Netherlands – were due to play on Monday.

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

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Qatar has come under scrutiny ahead of the tournament for its approach to human rights, including concerns over the conditions of migrant workers and the conservative Gulf state’s stance on LGBTQ people. Sex between men is banned in Qatar and punishable by up to seven years in prison, according to a recent US State Department report.

The OneLove campaign was originally conceived by the Dutch football team, and initially 10 European teams signed up for it in September. They agreed to have their captains 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. “A few hours before the first match, we were (officially) made clear by FIFA that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband,” the KNVB, the country’s football association, said in a statement. . “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 the captain to start the game with a yellow card. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we as a working group of UEFA, KNVB and as a team had to decide to abandon our plan”.

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Punishing team captains prior to the start of matches would impose a competitive disadvantage from the outset, with a second yellow card during a match leading to ejection.

While the basis of any possible FIFA sanctions against players has not been disclosed, according to Article 4.3 of FIFA’s kit regulations, no clothing or equipment may be worn if it is considered “dangerous, offensive or indecent” or involves “political , religious or personal slogans”.

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

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FIFA has rejected the OneLove campaign and, according to national football teams, has threatened to sanction players who wear the strip. Instead, FIFA proposed that national captains wear armbands from its special “No Discrimination” campaign, which it planned to launch with the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, soccer’s global body said it was promoting the launch of its No Discrimination campaign to allow all 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.

“FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants to use football for the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this should be done within the framework of competition regulations that are known to all,” the body said in a statement.

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

“Soccer for all”.

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