The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark have backed off wearing “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup after FIFA made it clear they would be booked, associations said Monday. in a joint statement.
FIFA has threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing the multi-coloured armband, which was introduced to show solidarity with the LGBT community. England captain Harry Kane spoke on Sunday of his desire to wear the armband in the first Group B match against Iran on Monday.
“FIFA has been very clear in stating that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the pitch,” said the joint statement released hours before England’s match against Iran in Doha.
“As national associations, we cannot put our players in a position where they can face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in matches.”
The move sparked quick and scathing criticism from groups representing the LGBT+ community.
“It is beyond disappointing that the silence and deflection of @FIFAWorldCup and @FIFAcom means that European captains are faced with starting matches with yellow cards for trying to highlight human rights issues,” said 3LionsPride, a group representing English fans.
“Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel scorned by an organization that has shown its true values by giving players a yellow card and tolerance a red card,” said the Football Supporters Association of England (FSA). ).
The nations’ joint statement said they were “very frustrated” by FIFA’s decision, which comes days after President Gianni Infantino said “I feel gay today” during a lengthy monologue to media criticizing the decision to host the World Cup in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
“We believe that (the decision) is unprecedented: we wrote to FIFA in September informing of our desire to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and we received no response,” the statement said.
“Our players and coaches are disappointed, they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show their support in other ways,” he added.
FIFA launched its own captain’s armband campaign to promote different causes in each round of the tournament. On Monday he said that he had brought forward the “No Discrimination” so that the captains have the opportunity to wear their own armband during the tournament.
“You don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card. For this reason, with a lot of pain, as a UEFA working group (…) and as a team, we have had to decide to abandon our plan,” the Federation said. Netherlands (KNVB) in a statement.
The KNVB said it was “deeply disappointed” by FIFA’s stance and would not let it go unnoticed.
“This completely goes against the spirit of our sport, which unites millions of people,” the KNVB said in a statement. “Together with other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA.”
Wales said the countries involved had been willing to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of the dress code, but the sporting penalties had been too big a step.