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Why Harry Kane And Gareth Bale Won’t Be Allowed to Wear ‘OneLove’ Armband in World Cup

Captains from several World Cup squads had been planning to wear the armbands as a sign of inclusivity, but FIFA threatened them with sanctions.

By Andrew Woodin
Germany's goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer wears the captain's armband with the inscription "One Love"

After FIFA delivered a stark and clear message that it would impose sanctions on World Cup squads if their captains wore “OneLove” armbands, including immediate yellow cards, representatives from England, Denmark, Belgium, Wales, Switzerland and Germany released a joint statement on Monday, stating that the armband – a beacon of hope aimed at bolstering global inclusion and denouncing discrimination – would not be worn during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“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,” the joint statement reads.

Featuring a striped heart in various colors, the symbolic armband represents equality for all backgrounds, heritages, genders and sexual identities – a seeming sticking point in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in prison, according to Sky News.

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“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,” continued the statement. “Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

Though the government of Qatar has marketed the 2022 FIFA World Cup by saying “everyone is welcome,” several incidents recorded by Human Rights Watch illustrate a vastly different picture, including Qatari security forces subjectively arresting LGBT individuals and exposing them to “ill-treatment in detention.” Countless outraged LGBTQ fans are steering clear of Qatar, for fear of retaliation against them, including Rob Sanderson, Special Projects Officer of Pride in Football, who penned a scathing letter condemning both Qatar and FIFA.

“We have witnessed a complete disregard for fans throughout this broken process – it is clear than fans’ voices, especially from minority groups, are not taken seriously by FIFA and the SC (Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy),” Sanderson wrote in his Twitter post. “This tournament needs to be safe for the travelling fans who decide to go but must also create a positive legacy for LGBT+ people in Qatar.”

“We cannot, in good faith, tell our members, LGBT+ people or allies that this a World Cup for all,” added Sanderson to the social media platform.

FIFA’s unprecedented decision to impose various sporting sanctions if captains of World Cup teams wear the “OneLove” armband came a shocking about-face to its own “No Discrimination” campaign. The abrupt change has ignited vocal anger and widespread condemnation from the Football Supporters’ Association, the representative body for football supporters in England and Wales, which has said it “feels betrayed.”

“Since 2010, we have been raising questions about the suitability of Qatar as a World Cup host,” a statement from the FSA said. “Everyone could see this coming, and it’s astonishing that, on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, FIFA are censoring players … who wish to share a positive message.”

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