What You Should Know: The ‘One Love’ Bracelet Controversy at the World Cup

youhe soccer captains of seven European teams donned rainbow armbands during world cup of qatar to promote a message LGBTQ inclusion in a nation where homosexuality is illegal. But after facing the heat of the sport’s governing body, FIFA, none of them will.

In a declaration On Monday, England’s soccer governing body, the Football Association, and its Welsh equivalent, joined the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Belgium in confirming that threats of sporting sanctions from FIFA left them no choice. to abandon the gesture of the One Love campaign that they announced in September.

“As national associations, we cannot allow our players to face sporting sanctions, including bookings, which is why we have asked our captains not to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup matches,” their statement read. joint. They added that they were prepared to face fines for breaking uniform rules, but would not allow players to receive yellow cards or be forced to leave the field.

The statement also said the teams are “very frustrated with FIFA and believe this is unprecedented”, before noting they will show their support “in other ways”. On Saturday, FIFA announced its own bracelet initiative, suggesting that players wear different armbands for each match, featuring what critics consider to be milquetoast slogans such as “Soccer unites the world”, “Share the food”, and “Bring the moves”. Whether these disgruntled teams will wear these alternative armbands remains to be seen, as England become the first European team to take the pitch in a match against Iran at 4pm local time on Monday.

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Here’s what to know about the One Love bracelet controversy.

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When did the One Love bracelet campaign start?

the One Love Campaign was initiated by the Dutch Football Association at the start of the 2020 football season, in an attempt to “express support for the unification of all people” and condemn all forms of discrimination. In September 2022, it was announced that nine other nations, including Norway, Sweden and France, would adopt the campaign for various upcoming matches, including the World Cup in Qatar and next year’s UEFA Nations League.

The team captains agreed to wear the rainbow armband, which bears the words “OneLove” and features the number one within a heart. Although it does not directly mention any LGBTQ causes or discrimination, the rainbow flag is a globally recognized symbol of LGBTQ rights.

In a 2020 statement, Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk said: “This is an important message that suits the game of football: on the pitch, everyone is equal and this should be the case everywhere. of the society. With the band OneLove we express this message.”

Read more: This is the reality of life for LGBTQ+ people in Qatar

Why teams want to wear the armbands in Qatar

Same-sex relationships are criminalized in Qatar, and members of the LGBTQ community have been arrested and mistreated by authorities in September 2018. according to Human rights observer. In light of this record, the armband was meant to act as a form of silent protest not unlike kneeling as a symbol of anti-racist solidarity, which England have embraced since the Euro 2020 games and will continue to do on their Monday. match against Iran.

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England manager Gareth Southgate confirmed that the Three Lions, as the England soccer team is known locally, will continue this tradition during the month-long tournament. “We have discussed taking a knee and we feel we should,” he said at a news conference on Sunday. “It’s what we stand for as a team, and we have for a long period of time.”

Before Monday, England captain Harry Kane stood his ground that he wanted to wear the bracelet. The England team, which features several star players from ethnic and racial minorities, is often praised for its social and political performance. progressive messages, including explicit condemnation of racism. So it came as no surprise when they initially refused to back down from wearing the bracelets.

Qatar has received a wave of international criticism since it secured the bid to host the soccer tournament in 2010, becoming the first Muslim-majority Middle Eastern nation to do so. The tiny Gulf nation has proven an unpopular choice for many soccer fans, due to its poor human rights record, and not just when it comes to LGBT rights.

Read more: Thousands of migrant workers died in Qatar’s extreme heat. The World Cup forced a reckoning

Why did these teams back out of wearing the bracelet?

in the middle of a series of rules and stipulations FIFA has on the team uniforms, the use of political statements on the team uniforms is prohibited. According to rule 4.3 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, “No article (whether a game kit or other clothing or equipment, or otherwise) may be worn or used in any controlled area if deemed by FIFA to be dangerous, offensive or indecent, includes political, religious, or personal slogans, statements or images, or does not fully comply with the laws of the game”.

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On Saturday, Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, said during a press conference in Doha that “we have clear regulations on bracelets.” And he added: “We have and participate in campaigns on different issues, campaigns that are universal. We need to find themes that everyone can adhere to. This is an important element for us.”

As such, FIFA warned that teams hoping to spread the One Love message would receive an instant yellow card at kick-off. This would increase the chances of players being ejected during a match, which could affect their final position in the tournament.

England, the first team to play intended to wear the One Love armband, are among the favorites to win the 2022 World Cup after losing to Italy in a penalty shootout during the Euro 2020 final. .

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write to Armani Syed in [email protected].