World Cup 2022: Teams drop rainbow armband plan after Fifa threat

A bid by European teams to promote inclusion during the World Cup collapsed on Monday, after the Netherlands, England and Wales said threats from Fifa had forced them to drop their bid. plans to wear rainbow-themed captain’s armbands.

The captains of the three countries had said at the weekend that they would wear the One Love armbands during their matches on Monday to send a message against discrimination while playing in Qatara country where homosexuality is illegal.

But on Monday, the Dutch Football Association said it was forced to change tack after football’s governing body made it clear captains would be shown yellow cards for wearing unapproved armbands. England and Wales have also said they will not follow the plan.

“We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together,” the Dutch football governing body KNVB said. “We stand for the One Love message and will continue to spread it, but our number one priority at the World Cup is to win the games.”

The statement also said: “Together with the other countries involved, we will critically review our relationship with Fifa in the coming period.”

Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Belgium are also part of the Dutch-led One Love campaign.

“As National Federations we cannot let our players face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked our captains not to wear armbands during FIFA World Cup matches. “, said all the football associations concerned in a joint statement shortly after the Netherlands. announcement.

They added: “We are very frustrated with Fifa and believe this is unprecedented.”

But then England manager Gareth Southgate struck a more conciliatory note. “I understand Fifa’s situation as far as you can set a precedent,” he told a news conference after his team’s 6-2 win over Iran. “Where do you draw the line? In an ideal world that would have been a much clearer situation earlier. . . Every coach now deserves the right to focus on football.

The question of whether European captains would be allowed to wear their favorite armbands had been simmering for months ahead of the tournament. Football associations asked Fifa for permission to wear One Love armbands months ago, but the football governing body’s position was not made clear until Monday, hours before kick-off , according to the Dutch press release.

Receiving a yellow card at kick-off would put players at an increased risk of being sent off during a game. Football associations initially expected to pay only a fine for breaking the rules.

Fifa announced its own campaign armbands on Saturday, the day before the tournament begins. Carrying slogans such as ‘Football unites the world’ and ‘Share the meal’, the UN-backed initiative was launched with a short video featuring messages from superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar.

In a press conference on Saturday, Fifa President Gianni Infantino hit back at European criticism, saying football’s governing body needed to focus on areas of consensus.

“There are associations that think white and others that think black. What is the best? Which cause is better? We cannot take sides. We must defend causes that are international, that are global. . . otherwise we start excluding people because they don’t think like us.

Fifa rules state: “For Fifa final competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by Fifa.”

Following the announcement of European teams on Monday, the Football Supporters’ Association, which represents fans in England and Wales, issued a statement scolding Fifa for “censoring players”.

“Today we feel contempt for an organization that showed its true values ​​by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance,” he said.

France were also part of the One Love campaign ahead of the tournament. However, France captain Hugo Lloris had previously indicated he was unlikely to wear the armband, telling a team press conference he needed to show ‘respect’ for Qatar’s culture. .

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