The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands will not wear the anti-discrimination OneLove armband in their first World Cup games. This is because they would get yellow cards if they did.
The news came right before their World Cup campaigns were set to begin. When it became clear that their captains would be fined for wearing the OneLove armband, the national federations had to change their plans.
“FIFA has been very clear that there will be sports penalties if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint statement from the countries said. “As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could get penalized, so we’ve asked the captains not to try to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
“We were ready to pay fines that would normally be given for breaking rules about uniforms, and we were very determined to wear the armband. But we can’t put our players in a position where they might get a ticket or even have to leave the field.
“We are very upset by FIFA’s decision, which we think is a first. In September, we wrote to FIFA to tell them we wanted to wear the “OneLove” armband to show our support for inclusion in football, but we didn’t hear back. Our players and coaches are upset, but they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show their support in other ways.
Before the tournament started, FIFA said that there would be seven different armbands with different social messages for each round of the competition. But as soon as the seven countries said they wouldn’t wear the “OneLove” armband on Monday, FIFA said the “No Discrimination” armband would be available for the whole tournament. Before, it was only going to be worn in the quarterfinals.
“After talking about it, FIFA can confirm that its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign has been moved up from the quarterfinals stage so that all 32 captains can wear this armband at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the statement said.
“This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which says: ‘For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each Team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.'”
The Dutch were the first to say that Virgil van Dijk would not wear the armband. In a statement about the decision, the KNVB said, “Today, just hours before the first game, FIFA officially told us that the captain will get a yellow card if he wears the “OneLove” captain’s armband. We’re very sorry that we couldn’t come up with a good solution together. We believe in the message of “OneLove” and will keep spreading it, but our top goal at the World Cup is to win games. You don’t want the captain to get a yellow card at the start of the game. Because of this, the UEFA working group, the KNVB, and we as a team had to decide to give up on our plan.
The KNVB also said, “As was already said, the KNVB could have been fined for wearing the “OneLove” captain’s armband, but it has never been seen that FIFA wants to punish us on the field for this.” This goes against the point of our sport, which is to bring people together. Together with the other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA in the coming period.”
France, which was part of the initiative at first, won’t be wearing the armband either. Noel Le Graet, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said he would “rather” players didn’t wear the rainbow armbands. On Monday, Hugo Lloris, the captain of the team, said there was “too much pressure” on players to protest in Qatar, reiterating the team’s position.
Lloris said, “I want to say that FIFA is in charge of the competition and that it sets the rules.” “We football players are here to play the sport and represent our country.
“At that level, the first game is always very important, and as the defending champions, we have even higher expectations of ourselves.”
Before the decision was made public, Kasper Hjulmand, the manager of Denmark, said that the decision to punish players for wearing the armband sent a “controversial message.”
Hjulmand said, “Think about going out on the field with a clear yellow card.” “That is not possible. We need to make sure that the players don’t have to decide.
“This isn’t something made up just for this. We have done this kind of thing before. I really don’t see what’s wrong. I see it as a big question mark as well.”
In September, nine countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, agreed to wear the armband as a sign of diversity, inclusion, and opposition to discrimination. This was done because of concerns about the human rights record of Qatar, which is hosting the World Cup.
FIFA and UEFA usually don’t let teams make political statements, but the armbands could be worn in their UEFA Nations League games because of a special exception from UEFA.
FIFA didn’t make its position clear, and the day before the World Cup started, it gave all captains social awareness armbands to wear. The nine countries, of which only seven are at the World Cup, were willing to pay a fine for the gesture, but it was also suggested that each captain should get a yellow card at the start of each game.
On the day before the European teams were to start their World Cup campaigns, they decided on their own not to wear the armband because they were afraid their captains would get in trouble.
England’s captain, Harry Kane, said he planned to wear it the day before their first game against Iran.
Kane said on Sunday, “I think we’ve made it clear as a team, staff, and organization that we want to wear the armband.” “I know that the FA is talking to FIFA right now, and I’m sure we’ll know what to do by the time the game starts tomorrow. We’ve made it pretty clear that we want to wear it.”
At the news conference the day before their first game, people asked manager Louis van Gaal and captain Van Dijk if they would wear the armband. The Dutch manager, Van Gaal, replied, “I’m not going to talk about politics anymore. I’m going to talk about the next game, and that’s the end of it.”
“After I invited the migrants to watch a practice, I told all of our players to stop thinking about that and concentrate on the game against Senegal.”
Other countries had said they would wear the armband, and Wales and Germany did so over the weekend.
This report was made with help from Reuters and ESPN’s Julien Laurens.