The captains of several European teams will not wear “OneLove” armbands during the World Cup in Qatar due to the risk of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales were to take part in the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and fight discrimination.
But associations in those countries said in a statement on Monday that the armband – which features a striped heart in different colors to represent all heritages, origins, genders and sexual identities – would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the pitch,” the joint statement read.
“As national federations we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands during football matches. the FIFA World Cup.”
“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and we were firmly committed to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they could be warned or even forced to leave the field of play,” the statement added.
The decision not to present the armband to Qatar comes hours before England’s opener against Iran, with Wales taking on the United States and the Netherlands taking on Senegal later Monday.
The countries said they were “frustrated” by what they described as FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction captains if they wore the armband.
“We wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and we have had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are from strong supporters of inclusion and will show their support in other ways,” the statement continued.
In the build-up to the World Cup, Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison – has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly insisted that “everyone is welcome” at the tournament.
France have been part of the season-long campaign but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
The Dutch Football Association, meanwhile, said on Monday it was “deeply disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would receive a yellow card if he were to wear the armband on the pitch.