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 the tournament’s organizer, FIFA, said players who sport in groups would be sanctioned.

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

“We were willing to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaking kit rules and we had a strong commitment to wearing armbands. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they can be punished or even forced to leave the field of play,” 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 deeply disappointed by FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented,” the teams said, adding that they would support “inclusion” in other ways. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings.”

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Qatar has been in the spotlight ahead of the tournament for its approach to human rights, including concerns about the conditions of migrant workers and the conservative Gulf state’s treatment of LGBTQ people. Sex between men is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to 7 years in prison, according to a recent US State Department report.

Originally conceived by the Dutch soccer team, 10 European teams joined the OneLove campaign in September – agreeing that their captains would wear rainbow armbands to send a message against discrimination and promote inclusion.

The Dutch were the first to publicly announce that captain Virgil van Dijk will not wear the armband. “A few hours before the first game, FIFA (officially) announced that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband,” the country’s Football Association KNVB said. . “We are very sorry 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 match with a yellow card. Therefore, we as the UEFA working group, the KNVB and the team have decided to abandon our plan.”

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Punishing team captains before the games start would be a competitive disadvantage from the start. He was ejected with one second during a match.

Although the grounds for any possible FIFA sanctions against players have not been disclosed, according to Article 4.3 of the FIFA kit regulations, “no clothing or equipment of a dangerous, offensive or obscene, political or religious nature may be worn. or personal slogans’.

“As captains we may all compete with each other on the field but we stand together against all forms of discrimination,” England captain Harry Kane said in September. “Putting the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message as the world watches.”

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FIFA has rejected the OneLove campaign and threatened to sanction players who wear the bandages, according to national football teams. Instead, FIFA suggested national captains wear armbands in an “Anti-Discrimination” campaign it plans to launch at the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, soccer’s global body said it was pushing ahead with the launch of the Anti-Discrimination Campaign to allow all 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.

“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 the rules of competition that are known to all,” the body said in a statement.

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

“Football is for everyone.”

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