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FIFA stops World Cup captains from wearing pro-LGBT ‘OneLove’ armbands

FIFA has laid down the law and prevented the captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands from wearing the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination armband in their Qatar 2022 World Cup opening games.

The governing body made it clear that their captains would be given yellow cards if they took part in the initiative, which was to protest Qatar’s laws against the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transexual (LGBT) community.

The teams backed down just before their World Cup campaigns were scheduled to start, with England and The Netherlands playing today.

The national federations said they were prepared to pay a fine for their captains to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband, but when FIFA declared that their captains would be punished, they had to change plans.

“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint statement from the nations issued today read.

“As national federations, 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.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. 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 — we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband to actively support inclusion in football, and 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 it would have seven different armbands available for each round of the competition, each with various social messaging slogans.

But soon after the seven nations made their U-turn on the ‘OneLove’ armband today, FIFA announced it would make the “No Discrimination” armband available throughout the tournament, when it was previously set to be worn at the quarter-final stage.

“Following discussions, FIFA can confirm its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarterfinals stage in order that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the statement read.

“This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which state: ‘For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each Team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.'”

The Dutch were the first to announce publicly that their captain Virgil van Dijk would not wear the armband.

The KNVB statement on the decision said: “Today, hours before the first game, it has been made clear to us from FIFA (officially) 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 reach a reasonable solution together.”

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