The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands will no longer wear the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination armbands in their World Cup opening games in Qatar after confirmation that they would be issued with Yellow Cards if they do so.
The announcement came just before their World Cup campaigns were scheduled to start. The national federations had said they were prepared to pay fine for their Captains to wear the ‘OneLove’ armbands, but once it became clear their Captains would be sanctioned, they had to change their mind.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint statement from the nations read.
“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.
“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.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented — we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed — they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways,” it added.
FIFA announced before the start of the tournament it would have seven different armbands available for each round of the competition, each with various social messaging slogans. But soon after the seven nations announced they would not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband on Monday, FIFA announced it would make the “No Discrimination” armband available throughout the tournament, when it was previously set to be worn at the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
“Following discussions, FIFA can confirm its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarterfinals stage in order that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Equipment Regulations, which state: ‘For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each Team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA,” it further stated.
The Dutch were the first to announce publicly that Virgil Van Dijk would not wear the armband.
The KNVB statement on the decision said: “Today, hours before the first game, it has been made clear to us from FIFA (officially) that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband. We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together.”
Speaking before the announcement was made, Denmark manager, Kasper Hjulmand, said the decision to sanction players for wearing the armband carried a “controversial message.”
“Imagine going on the pitch with a clear yellow card to start with,” Hjulmand said, adding: “That is not possible. We have to make sure that it’s not up to players to make that decision.
“This is not something invented for this occasion. It’s something we have done before. I can’t see the problem to be honest. For me, it’s also a big question mark.”
Nine nations including Germany, Netherlands and Belgium agreed in September to wear the armband as a symbol of diversity, inclusion and anti-discrimination amid concerns over World Cup hosts Qatar’s human rights record.