“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and we were firmly committed to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they could be warned or even forced to leave the field of play,” the football associations said in a joint statement. Three of the teams – England, Wales and the Netherlands – were due to play on Monday.
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“We are very frustrated with FIFA’s decision which we believe is unprecedented,” the teams added, promising to show their support for “inclusion” in other ways. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings.”
Qatar has come under scrutiny heading into the tournament for its approach to human rights, including concerns over the conditions of migrant workers and the stance of the conservative Persian Gulf state on towards LGBTQ people. Sex between men is banned in Qatar and punishable by up to seven years in prison, according to a recent report by the US State Department.
Grant Wahl, an American football writer, said he was arrested by a security guard during Monday’s USA v Wales match for wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it.
Wahl later said he was held for half an hour in “unnecessary ordeal” but was eventually allowed into the stadium. “Come on gays,” he wrote on Twitter with a rainbow emoji.
I’m fine, but it was a useless ordeal. I’m in the media center, I’m still wearing my shirt. Was detained for almost half an hour. Come on gays 🌈 https://t.co/S3INBoCz89
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 21, 2022
Peter Bossaert, CEO of the Belgian Football Association, told local media on Monday that the national team had been forced by FIFA to remove the word “Love” from their away shirt – even though it was attached to the inside the shirt.
“The word LOVE has to go,” Bossaert told Belgian reporters on Monday.
“It’s sad,” he said. “But FIFA leaves us no choice.”
The OneLove campaign was originally designed by the Dutch football team and initially 10 European teams signed up in September. They agreed that their captains would 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. “Hours before the first match, FIFA (officially) let us know that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband,” said the KNVB, the country’s football association, in a press release. . “We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together.
“We stand for the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our #1 priority at the World Cup is to win the games. You don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card. That’s why it is with heavy hearts that we, as a UEFA task force, KNVB and as a team, had to decide to abandon our plan.”
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Penalizing team captains before games start would impose a competitive disadvantage from the start, with a second yellow card in a game resulting in ejection.
Although the basis for possible FIFA sanctions against the players has not been made public, in accordance with article 4.3 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, no clothing or equipment may be worn if it is considered as “dangerous, offensive or indecent” or contains “political” elements. , religious or personal slogans.
FIFA proposed that national captains wear armbands from its separate “No Discrimination” campaign which it had planned to start with the quarter-finals.
In a separate statement on Monday, the world football body said it had brought forward the start of its campaign against discrimination to allow all 32 national captains to wear the armband throughout the tournament.
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“FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants to put football at the service of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this must be done within the framework of the rules of the competition which are known to all,” the statement said.
The Football Association of Wales expressed its frustration and disappointment in a statement, but added: “We remain convinced that football is for everyone and support our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family. Football for everyone.
The Football Supporters’ Association, a group representing supporters of England and Wales, said in a statement that LGBTQ supporters felt angry and betrayed by FIFA’s decision.
“Today we feel contempt for an organization that showed its true values by giving players a yellow card and a red card for tolerance,” the group said.
In an interview with BBC Radio, former England captain Alan Shearer said that while the timing of the decision was “not fair” for the players, he would have worn the armband anyway.
“That would be a bigger question and a bigger problem for FIFA than not wearing it, and that’s what I would do, if I could,” Shearer said.
And although the OneLove armband was not worn on the pitch, it was worn on the sidelines in the England-Iran game: Alex Scott, an English sports pundit who once played for the England women’s team , sported the armband on Monday.
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