World Cup 2022: FIFA criticized for OneLove bracelet threat

Key points
  • FIFA has vowed to punish players who wear anti-discrimination armbands.
  • Seven captains of European nations had planned to wear OneLove bracelets.
  • According to a FIFA directive issued on Monday, the captains would have received yellow cards if they were wearing the armbands.
Australian footballer Josh Cavallo – who became the first professional player to come out as gay – says FIFA has shown his sport is not for everyone by vowing to punish players wearing anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup.
Seven European captains had planned to wear OneLove bracelets at the World Cup in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are illegal.

The captains wanted to wear the armbands to promote inclusion and diversity in football and society.

But under a FIFA directive issued on Monday, the captains would have received yellow cards if they were wearing the armbands during matches.
“FIFA you have lost my respect,” Cavallo wrote on social media.

“All the work we are doing to make football more inclusive, you have shown that football is not a place for everyone.”

Republic of Ireland v Norway - International

Captain Martin Ødegaard from Norway during the friendly match between Ireland and Norway at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Source: Getty / (Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Socceroos captain Mat Ryan said FIFA’s wristband directive had been circulated to all World Cup competitors.

“I was informed it would result in a yellow card,” Ryan said.

Ryan was among 16 Socceroos players to release a video message ahead of the World Cup calling on the host nation to decriminalize same-sex relationships.

“Together with our players’ union, we made our statement a month ago … just trying to affect positive change in the world,” he said.
Asked about his feelings about the bracelet ordinance, Ryan said, “I have no comment.”

England’s Harry Kane, Dutchman Virgil van Dijk and Wales’ Gareth Bale were due to wear the OneLove armbands during Monday’s matches.

The captains of Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were also expected to wear the armbands in the coming days.
But the seven European confederations issued a joint statement following FIFA’s directive saying they would not wear the armbands.

“As national associations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings,” the statement said.

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand criticized the back from the Seven Nations.
“The first bump in the road and they’ve collapsed like a pack of cards,” he told the BBC.

But German FA president Bernd Neuendorf said the move was a “disgraceful display of power by FIFA”.

The Dutch federation said: “The fact that FIFA wants to punish us on the pitch is unprecedented and goes against the spirit of the sport that unites millions.”
The OneLove campaign started in the Netherlands.

Its symbol was a heart-shaped multi-colored logo designed to promote inclusion and diversity in football and society.

The band featured the rainbow colors associated with the Pride flag and was intended to make a strong statement in Qatar, a country that criminalizes same-sex relationships.
According to FIFA rules, team kits cannot have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.

And during competitions, the captain of each team “must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA”.

England v IR Iran: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The bracelet worn by Harry Kane of England during the Group B match between England and IR Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Source: Getty / (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

FIFA said on Monday that the captains of all 32 teams “will have the opportunity” to wear an armband with the slogan “No discrimination” during group matches.

The cabinet also denied Belgium permission to wear their second strip because of the word “Love” in the collar along with rainbow-colored patches on the shirt.
If the word “Love” is removed from the inside of the jersey, the team is allowed to wear it.

The design was inspired by the fireworks of Belgium’s famous music festival Tomorrowland, which stands for diversity, equality and inclusion.

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