FIFA Threatened To Punish Players For Wearing An Armband In Support Of LGBTQ+ Rights

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

Close up of 'one love' band being worn by a long-sleeved athlete

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We are just two days into the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the governing body has already threatened to punish players for wearing armbands in support of LGBTIQ+ rights — prompting widespread backlash from players and fans.

The choice to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has  been widely criticised because of the country’s human rights issues, particularly the treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTIQ+ community.

Ahead of the event, the captains of seven European teams announced they would wear rainbow ‘One Love’ armbands to support queer rights. However, all seven teams were forced to abandon the initiative after FIFA threatened to give immediate yellow cards to players who wore the armbands.

“As national federations we can’t let our players face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked our captains not to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games,” the seven countries announced in a joint statement.

The teams noted that they would’ve been happy to accept fines for breaching FIFA’s kit regulations — which prohibit “the display of political, religious, or personal messages” — but could not risk players receiving a yellow card or being ejected from the field.

In a lengthy statement, the Football Association also noted that it first wrote to FIFA about the proposal to wear the One Love armband way back in September, but did not receive a response.

“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 One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response,” the statement continued.

“Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”

While players were unable to wear the armband, BBC pundit Alex Scott chose to don the band in her on-air coverage of England’s first match of the World Cup.

Following the decision to punish players for wearing the armband, Australian footballer and the only openly gay man in top-tier football x has slammed the governing body in an emotional Instagram post.

“FIFA. I love my identity. Seeing you have banned all teams to wear the One Love Armband to actively support LGBTQ+ at the world cup,” Cavallo wrote overnight. “You have lost my respect!”

“All the work my fellow allies and the LGBTQ+ community are doing to make football inclusive, you have shown that football isn’t a place for everyone.”

While Australia’s team, the Socceroos, did not ever agree to wear the One Love armband, they come forward with a lengthy protest video regarding Qatar’s human rights issues prior to the games kicking off.