England will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar as the reversal was announced just three hours before their opening game against Iran.
The FA and Harry Kane had insisted they would wear the bracelet as a message of anti-discrimination and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
But on Monday morning, FA CEO Mark Bullingham said England were looking into whether there was “another way to show our values” after FIFA threatened to book any captain with the OneLove armband in World Cup matches.
Less than an hour later, the football associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland confirmed in a statement that they would not be wearing the armband.
“FIFA has made it very clear that if our captains wear the armbands on the field, they will impose sporting sanctions. As national federations we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including warnings, so we asked the captains not to try to wear the armbands at FIFA World Cup matches”, it says in the statement.
“We were willing to pay fines that would normally be imposed for gear violations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they are cautioned or even forced to leave the field.
“We are extremely frustrated by FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our desire to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football and received No Answer. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong advocates of inclusion and will show their support in other ways.”
FIFA launches ‘No Discrimination’ campaign
FIFA then confirmed that their “No Discrimination” campaign had been brought forward, apparently to limit the criticism that will follow the decision not to wear the OneLove armband.
“Following discussions, FIFA can confirm that their No Discrimination campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarter-final stage so that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the governing body said.
“This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Kit Regulations, which states: “At FIFA final tournaments, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”
“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Regulations, approved by all players, are designed to preserve the integrity of the pitch for all participants and apply equally to all participating teams.
“FIFA is an inclusive organization that aims to use football for the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this must be done within the rules of competition known to all.”
“FA deserves criticism that will follow” | Could an early Kane booking have hampered England’s progress?
Sky Sports News reporter Cave Solhekol and Rob Dorset discussed the decision on Monday morning, presenting both sides of the argument in a passionate debate.
“It’s an extraordinary descent for the FA,” said Solhekol. “They’re going to get a lot of criticism for that and to be fair I think they deserve a lot of that criticism.
“OK Harry Kane would have gotten a yellow card – so what? Surely he should have just taken that yellow card on the chin? The focus would then have been on FIFA because they would have had to justify showing Kane – one of the best players of the world, one of the faces of this tournament, the holder of the Golden Boot at the last World Cup – a yellow card for England before the tournament had even started for wearing an armband.
“It’s not even a rainbow armband; it has a heart in it, it says ‘OneLove’ and it has the colors of the rainbow in that heart stop Kane and the captains of six other countries from wearing that armband?”
Dorsett agreed but questioned the impact booking for Kane could have on England’s progress in Qatar.
He added: “Imagine a scenario where Harry Kane gets booked before he even steps onto the field for wearing that OneLove armband. He then makes a somewhat hasty challenge in the first half, gets another booking and is sent off. England captain sent off in the opening game of the World Cup.
“What would happen in the second game if he wanted to wear the OneLove armband? Would he get a second yellow card and be banned for the third game? It’s a nuclear option that FIFA went for.”
“I think you have to put yourself in the shoes of the FA on the eve of a World Cup. They were faced with an impossible situation.”
Carra: England will look weak if they bow to pressure from FIFA
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher had said England would look “weak” if they agreed not to wear the OneLove armband after continued pressure from FIFA.
Speaking of Sky sports newsAt the World Cup breakfast before the U-turn, Carragher said: “Harry Kane has to wear it.
“England have made a big fuss about wearing this, that this is their protest at the World Cup in Qatar, human rights and everything that is going on in the country that people have been criticizing.
“This is England’s way of showing that they don’t agree with everything that’s going on in the country.
“They can’t retire now. The fact that Harry Kane might get a yellow card only strengthens the campaign. If England were to get out because of a yellow card for Kane I think that would be weak, so I think it’s them should do.” more determined.”
“The Football Association of Wales is incredibly disappointed by FIFA’s smart policy move”
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes has outlined the Welsh perspective following the news that Gareth Bale will be one of seven captains not to wear the OneLove armband in Qatar.
“I had a chat with the FA’s chief executive, Noel Mooney, just before the official announcement when he told me what was going to happen – and they’re just incredibly, incredibly disappointed,” he said.
“For Wales it was not just about aligning with a number of other football associations, it was about being part of their cultural identity and trying to make football an inclusive human being.
“They have worked very hard as an association to make men’s and women’s football more inclusive and also to promote girls’ and boys’ football. There was also a recognition that the LGBTQ+ community loves football and loves to come to see men’s and women’s football, as well as senior teams and they want them to be part of the Red Wall.
“The Rainbow Wall are not here in Qatar because they are too scared to come and they don’t want to come because they don’t want to be part of what they see as a sports wash event. So the whole point of the Welsh FA making that gesture with the players was a solidarity with that community and really showed they care.
“I always try to get all sides of the story in my reporting, but it’s very difficult not to see this as a very, very smart political move by FIFA where, as far as they’re concerned, they timed it perfectly.”
‘Today we feel betrayed’ – Fan group angry at FIFA over armband threat
That Association of football fans expressed his “contempt” for FIFA after plans by England and Wales to wear anti-discrimination armbands were dropped under threat of sporting sanctions.
A statement said: “To paraphrase FIFA President Gianni Infantino – today LGBT+ football fans and their allies will be furious. Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organization that has shown its true values by yellow carding players Red card for tolerance.
“Never again should a World Cup be awarded solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country that disregards LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, labor rights or other universal human rights should be given the honor of hosting a World Cup.
“We’ve been asking questions about Qatar’s suitability to host a World Cup since 2010. Everyone could see this coming and it’s amazing that on the morning of the World Cup opener in England, FIFA is trying to censor players for spreading a positive message .”
Action group anti-discrimination throw it out also condemned the move by FIFA.
“We are disappointed that FIFA intends to impose sanctions on European nations that choose to wear the ‘One Love’ armband, preventing teams from sending a strong statement to the world that diversity and inclusion is a are an integral part of football,” the statement said.
“This decision further underscores FIFA’s failure to address concerns from both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community ahead of this tournament.
“Players and fans would not have had to bear the burden of FIFA’s mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate and his team as they seek other ways to promote inclusion in football.
“Football should be a game for everyone and Kick It Out remains in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”