European World Cup teams backed down on Monday from wearing rainbow LGBTQ armbands during their games in Qatar after FIFA threatened to penalize players if they did so.
In a joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, the teams announced the captains would not be wearing “OneLove” armbands during the games, the Washington Post reported. The change comes after the teams said the world soccer organization notified them that it would “impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.”
“We can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games,” the statement said.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband,” it added. “However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented,” the joint statement continued. “Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”
Breaking: England and Wales won’t wear One Love armbands
“we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.” pic.twitter.com/6ySojM4Jas
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) November 21, 2022
While FIFA announced the ban for the armband on the field, the outlet noted that during the England-Iran game, Alex Scott, an English sports pundit who formerly played for the England women’s team, was spotted wearing the rainbow armband on the sidelines.
American soccer writer Grant Wahl tweeted on Monday that security stopped him from entering the stadium to watch the USA vs. Wales game because he was wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it, the outlet noted.
I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal. Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays 🌈 https://t.co/S3INBoCz89
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
“I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal,” Wahl wrote. “Am in the media center, still wearing my shirt. Was detained for nearly half an hour. Go gays.”
Qatar has been called out for human rights violations and its stance on gay people, where it remains illegal to be homosexual. As recently as this month, the Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman called homosexuality “damage in the mind,” the Associated Press noted.
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