Clubs back down in OneLove World Cup armband row

Harry Kane could get booked credit:Bang Showbiz
Harry Kane could get booked credit:Bang Showbiz

Seven European teams, including England and Wales, have agreed their captains will not wear OneLove armbands during their World Cup games.

Players from various countries competing in the soccer tournament in Qatar - where homosexuality is illegal - had planned to don the rainbow-hued bands during matches to support LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity but after being warned they risked an automatic yellow card for breaking FIFA's rules, they have expressed their frustration but feel they must comply with the order.

In a joint statement with Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the football associations of England and Wales 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 … however we cannot put out players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play."

Officials admitted they are "very frustrated" by the decision and vowed to "show support" for inclusion however else they can.

The statement continued: "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 announcement comes just hours before England face Iran, and on Sunday (20.11.22), their captain, Harry Kane, had said he wanted to wear the armband.

He said: "I think we’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband.

"I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment, and I’m sure by game time tomorrow they will have their decision. But, yeah, I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it."

England manager Gareth Southgate added: "There’s nothing I can add to what Harry has said. I know there are some conversations going on. I think a number of European countries have spoken. We’ve made our position clear, so hopefully everything will be resolved before the game."

Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk, who will play Senegal on Monday, had also vowed to show support with the armband.

He said: "I will wear the One Love armband tomorrow. Nothing changed from our point of view. If I will get a yellow card for wearing it then we would have to discuss it because I don't like to play while being on a yellow."

Germany's Manuel Neuer had also voiced his intention to still wear the armband.

He said: "Firstly, I want to say that we all haven't experienced something like this - the whole tournament is an experiment. But we have the complete backing of the (German Football Association), we have no fear."

FIFA had tried to diffuse the row with their own initiative, offering armbands that promote various causes including anti-discrimination, children's safety, education, healthy living and environmentalism.

However, the anti-discrimination bands won't be used until the later stages of the tournament.

Their current rules state: "At FIFA tournaments, match staff must wear official clothing and equipment provided by FIFA, including FIFA event badges specified and provided by FIFA."