England, Wales and five other nations will no longer wear ‘OneLove’ armbands at the Qatar World Cup.
The armband was set to be worn by the captains of a number of countries at the tournament in support of LGBT+ rights. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, which hosts the tournament that began yesterday (November 20) and runs until December 18. England manager Gareth Southgate had said that his players will speak out about human rights abuses in the host nation during the tournament.
Ahead of England and Wales’ first World Cup games today (November 21), governing body FIFA revealed that it would consider sporting sanctions – including yellow cards – against any captain who wears the ‘OneLove’ armband, which has been deemed to be against the rules.
In a joint statement, the Football Associations of the seven countries who were planning to wear the armband – England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland – said they were “disappointed” but “can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions” and so will no longer wear them during games.
The statement said: “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’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 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.”
The 2022 World Cup is being held in and around the Qatari capital city of Doha, and is being held amid ongoing criticism regarding the death of migrant workers in the creation of stadiums and the country’s views on homosexuality.
Comedian Joe Lycett made headlines this week by throwing £10,000 into a tree shredder, in protest of David Beckham’s involvement in the World Cup. Last week, Lycett criticised Beckham’s role as a tournament ambassador, which has reportedly netted him £10million.
In a video message, the comedian offered to donate £10,000 of his own money to queer charities if Beckham ended the sponsorship before the tournament started. If not, he promised he would shred the cash on the opening day of the tournament.
Many other artists have spoken about the tournament in the run-up, with Rod Stewart saying he turned down almost £1million to perform at the World Cup, saying “it’s not right”, while Robbie Williams responded to criticism for being booked to perform at the Qatar World Cup.
Dua Lipa also recently denied rumours that she was to be involved, calling on Qatar to fulfil the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host the tournament, while Maluma, the singer of the 2022 Qatar World Cup anthem, stormed out of an interview after being accused of “whitewashing” regarding the host country’s human rights record.