Another talking point has been added to the list of controversial topics at Qatar 2022: OneLove armbands.
The OneLove campaign was launched by the Dutch Football Association in 2020 to promote inclusion and unity. A handful of European nations planned to wear the OneLove bracelet. The OneLove bracelet features a multicolored heart with a “1” between the words “One” and “Love”.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England, Wales, Switzerland and Denmark are the teams present at the World Cup who have planned to take part in the campaign and wear the armband during their matches in Qatar, where homosexuality and same-sex relationships are illegal.
The respective teams’ Football Associations (FA) informed FIFA of their intention to wear the armbands during the World Cup back in September, but FIFA never seems to have responded.
Then, hours before England’s World Cup opener against Iran began, FIFA threatened to impose sporting sanctions on teams wearing the OneLove armband. FIFA also threatened to issue yellow cards to captains who wore the armband.
These teams were willing to accept and pay fines but did not want to risk their captains collecting yellow cards and missing games.
The above associations released this joint statement on Monday:
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 situation where they face sporting sanctions, including warnings, so we have asked captains not to attempt to wear the armbands at FIFA World Cup matches.
We were willing to pay fines that would normally be imposed for gear violations and made a strong commitment to wear the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they are cautioned or even forced to leave the field.
We are very frustrated with FIFA’s decision, which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing us of our desire to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football and have received no response .
Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong advocates for inclusion and will show their support in other ways.
National coach Hansi Flick and the German Football Association (DFB) have spoken out more strongly against FIFA’s stance on the matter.
Flick back over the armband: “If it had only been a yellow card, that would have been okay. But FIFA has not specified the sanctions. It’s a shame that our fight for human rights wasn’t allowed to last. It’s a shame that you can no longer stand up for human rights.” pic.twitter.com/pNEykqyGNH
— Bavaria & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) November 22, 2022
It seems as if it was the lack of clarity about the impending sanctions from Fifa that prompted the DFB to join the demands. The DFB described this as “extreme blackmail,” and DFB representative Stefan Simon said DFP had taken the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, according to the Telegraph. This is largely due to REWE, one of Germany’s biggest supermarket brands, cutting ties with the FA over the decision not to wear the armband.
Other brands that have contracts with the DFB have also been asked to respond to the decision, leaving the DFB with more strained relationships due to FIFA’s handling of the OneLove bracelet campaign.