European teams give up wearing armbands at the World Cup

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European teams give up wearing armbands at the World Cup
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Doha, Qatar — The threat of on-pitch FIFA punishment for the players forced World Cup teams to back down on Monday and abandon an anti-discrimination campaign targeting host country Qatar.

The captains of seven European nations will not wear armbands supporting the ‘One Love’ campaign in matches after FIFA said players would receive yellow cards. The decision came three days after beer sales in stadiums were suddenly banned under pressure from the Qatari government and two days after FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivered an extraordinary tirade defending the host country’s record. in matters of human rights.

“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings,” the seven football federations said in a joint statement.

The descent after the FIFA threats came hours before England’s Harry Kane, Dutchman Virgil van Dijk and Wales’ Gareth Bale wore the armbands in Monday’s matches. The captains of Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark had also pledged to wear the armbands in the coming days.

“Our number one priority at the World Cup is to win the games,” the Dutch football association said in a separate statement. “So you don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card.”

Monday’s decision shows the political situation surrounding the first World Cup in the Middle East – even after Infantino asked all 32 national teams to keep politics off the football pitch.

Since winning the rights to host the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has faced years of criticism over its treatment of low-paid migrant workers as well as its criminalization of gay and lesbian sex.

FIFA raised the prospect of yellow cards on Sunday during a harrowing meeting with European football federations, including the seven teams that have pledged to wear the armband.

The One Love campaign was launched in the Netherlands and its symbol is a multicolored heart-shaped logo aimed at promoting inclusion and diversity in football and society.

However, Europe’s plans were in clear breach of World Cup regulations and FIFA’s general rules on kitting out teams in its matches.

“For FIFA final competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA,” says the football body’s equipment regulations.

The armband dispute erupted two months ago when 10 European teams said they had joined Dutch football’s long-running campaign, but it was still unresolved when the seven teams arrived in Qatar.

FIFA offered its own compromise on Monday, saying the captains of the 32 teams “will have the option” of wearing an armband with the slogan “No Discrimination” in group matches.

FIFA’s initial offer on Saturday was that “NoDiscrimination” – the only one of its chosen slogans aligned with the wish of European teams – would only appear at the quarter-final stage.

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