England, Germany and five other European teams at the FIFA World Cup on Monday abandoned plans to wear rainbow-themed armbands in support of LGBTQ rights because of the threat of disciplinary action.
Belgium, one of the teams, also said that soccer’s governing body would not allow them to use their rainbow-tinged second kit with the word “Love” on the collar.
The armbands had widely been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the seven teams said in a joint statement.
German Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf called FIFA’s stance “an unprecedented event in World Cup history” and “a show of force” from the world governing body.
Under its rules, players wearing kit that is not authorized by FIFA could be shown a yellow card. If that player is then shown a second yellow card, they would be sent off.
The “OneLove” armband due to be worn by the likes of England captain Harry Kane and Germany’s Manuel Neuer was designed as part of a campaign to promote inclusivity.
No player wore the “OneLove” armbands on Monday, althoughKane wore the FIFA-approved “No Discrimination” armband that was offered as a compromise.
“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,” the federations of England, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales said.
When the “OneLove” initiative was announced in September, Kane said he was “honored” to join fellow World Cup captains in donning the armband.
Speaking after England’s 6-2 thumping of Iran on Monday, coach Gareth Southgate said the issue had become a distraction.
“I actually understand FIFA’s point. If you don’t draw a line it sets a precedent,” he said, before adding: “People know what we stand for.”
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal, whose side beat Senegal 2-0, said: “Actually I no longer want to answer political questions.
“This is the time to talk only about football, but one thing is clear: We are not going to wear the armband if we are going to get a yellow card,” he said.
Meanwhile, a US journalist said he was briefly detained when he tried to enter a World Cup stadium in Qatar while wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ community.
Grant Wahl, a former Sports Illustrated journalist who now has his own Web site, said World Cup security denied him entry to the US’ opener against Wales at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan and asked him to take his shirt off.
He said his phone was taken away when he wrote about the incident on Twitter.
“I’m OK, but that was an unnecessary ordeal,” Wahl wrote on Twitter.
He said a security commander later apologized and allowed him into the venue, and he received an apology from a FIFA representative.
Additional reporting by Reuters and AP
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