World Cup teams drop ‘OneLove’ strip amid FIFA row
Captains England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands will not wear the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination armband in their opening World Cup matches after confirming their captains will receive yellow cards if they take part in the initiative.
The announcement came just before the start of their World Cup campaign. The national federations said they were prepared to pay a fine for their captains to wear the ‘OneLove’ strip, but when it became clear that their captains would be sanctioned, they had to change their plans.
“FIFA has been very clear that they will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear armbands on the field of play,” the nations said in a joint statement. “As national associations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked captains not to try to wear armbands at FIFA World Cup matches.
“We were prepared to pay the fines that would otherwise apply to shirt rule violations and we had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they could be fined or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented — we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our desire to wear ‘OneLove’ armbands to actively support inclusion in football, and have had no response . Our players and coaches are disappointed — they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”
FIFA announced before the start of the tournament that they would have seven different strips available for each round of the competition, each with different social message slogans. But shortly after the seven nations announced they would not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband on Monday, FIFA announced it would make the “No Discrimination” armband available throughout the tournament, when it was previously scheduled to be worn at the quarter-final stage.
“Following discussions, FIFA can confirm that its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign has been moved from the planned quarter-final stage to allow all 32 captains the opportunity to wear the armband during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” it said in a statement.
“This is in accordance with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which states: ‘For FIFA final competitions, the captain of each team must wear a captain’s armband provided by FIFA’.”
The Dutch were the first to announce it publicly Virgil van Dyke he wouldn’t wear a ribbon. The KNVB statement about the decision reads: “Today, a few hours before the first match, we were (officially) informed by FIFA that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband. We deeply regret that it was not possible to come together to a reasonable solution.
“We stand for the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our number 1 priority at the World Cup is to win. You don’t want the captain to start the match with a yellow card. That’s why we as the UEFA task force, the KNVB and as a team had to decide to abandon our plan.”
The KNVB added: “As previously announced, the KNVB would pay a possible fine for wearing the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband, but for FIFA to want to punish us on the field for this has never been seen. This is against the spirit of our sport that connects millions of people. Together with the other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA in the coming period.”
France, which was also part of the initiative, will also not wear the ribbon. French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet said he would “prefer” the players he didn’t wear rainbow ribbonswhile the captain Hugo Lloris he reiterated the team’s position in a press conference Monday after previously saying there was “too much pressure” about the players protesting in Qatar.
Nine nations, including Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, agreed in September to wear the ribbon as a symbol diversity, inclusion and anti-discrimination amid concerns over the human rights record of World Cup hosts Qatar.
Both FIFA and UEFA normally do not allow teams to make political statements, but European football’s governing body has given permission for the strips to be worn at their UEFA Nations League matches.
FIFA has not made its position clear and, just a day before the start of the World Cup, launched its own armbands to be worn by all captains, promoting social awareness. Nine nations, of which only seven are present at the World Cup, were prepared to accept a fine for the gesture, but there were suggestions that each captain could be booked at the start of each game.
And on the day European nations were set to kick off their World Cup campaign, they took the unilateral decision not to wear the armband for fear their captains would be fined
“I think we’ve made it clear as a team, as a staff and as an organization that we want to wear the armband,” Kane said on Sunday. “I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment and I’m sure we’ll have a decision by tomorrow’s game. I think we’ve made it clear that we want to handle it.”
Dutch manager Louis van Gaal and captain Van Dijk were asked at a press conference the day before the opener whether they would wear the armband. Van Gaal, the Dutch manager, replied: “I’m not going to talk about political issues anymore, I’m talking about the upcoming game and putting an end to all those issues.
“After I invited the migrants to watch the training, I asked all our players to put an end to it and focus on the match against Senegal.”
Other nations have confirmed they plan to wear the strip, with Wales and Germany doing so at the weekend.
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