By Emmanuel Okogba
England, Wales and other European teams who had earlier insisted on their captains wearing a ‘One Love’ armband at their 2022 World Cup matches have opted out after FIFA remained adamant on its stand against it.
The various football associations have been in a meeting with FIFA this morning to understand the sanctions that could be handed to them if they go ahead with it, but as it stands, they have dropped the idea altogether.
A joint statement by the FAs of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland expressed frustrastion with FIFA’s decision which they believe is unprecedented.
The statement reads: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can 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 One Love 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.”
England will be the first team, among those clamouring for the use of the armband, to get their World Cup campaign underway, and it was left to see how it will turn out, considering that they would have been ‘guinea pigs’ for FIFA’s sanctions, if they had gone ahead with it.
The armband featuring a “heart containing colours representative of all backgrounds” was proposed by the UEFA Working Group in support of inclusion and diversity.
Same-sex relationships and open display of affections are criminalised in Qatar.