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 after FIFA, the tournament’s host, said it would punish the group’s players.

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

“We were prepared to pay fines for breaking the kit rules and had a strict obligation to wear armbands. “However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they have to leave the field or leave the field,” the FA 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 upset by FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented,” the teams added, pledging to support “inclusion” in other ways. “As national associations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could be subject to sporting sanctions, including bookings.”

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

The OneLove campaign was first initiated by the Dutch football team and 10 European teams signed up in September. They agreed to wear rainbow ribbons to send an anti-discrimination message to their elders and promote inclusion.

The Dutch are the first to publicly announce that captain Virgil van Dijk will not wear the armband. “We were (officially) informed by FIFA that a few hours before the first match, the captain of OneLove will receive a yellow card if he wears the captain’s armband,” the country’s football association KNVB said. . “We deeply regret that we could not reach a reasonable solution together.

“We support the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but the priority at the World Cup is to win games. You don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card. That’s why we are working with the UEFA task force, the KNVB and As a team, it is with great sadness that we have decided to abandon our plans.”

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Punishing team captains before the game starts will have a negative impact on the competition from the start, resulting in a second yellow card during the match and a dismissal.

FIFA’s grounds for any sanctions against players have not been made public, but according to FIFA’s equipment rule 4.3, any clothing or equipment deemed “dangerous, offensive or inappropriate” cannot be worn. , religious and personal slogans.”

England captain Harry Kane said in September: “As captains we all compete with each other on the field but we stand together against all forms of discrimination.” “Wearing the ribbon 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 punish players who wear the armbands, according to national football teams. Instead, FIFA proposed that national team captains wear armbands during its “No Discrimination” campaign, which was scheduled to begin in the quarter-finals.

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In a separate statement on Monday, soccer’s world body said it had launched its “No Discrimination” campaign to allow its 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.

“FIFA is an inclusive organization that supports good and legitimate causes and wants to make football useful to society, but this must be done within the framework of the rules of the competition that everyone knows,” the organization said in a statement.

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

“Football is for everyone.”

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