News Home » World » England and Wales will not wear OneLove armbands

Around the World

England and Wales will not wear OneLove armbands

How do LGBTQ+ football fans feel about the Qatar World Cup?
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listings - Full coverage details

England, Wales and other European nations will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup in Qatar because of the threat of players being booked.

The captains, including England's Harry Kane and Gareth Bale of Wales, had planned to wear the armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion.

A joint statement from seven football associations said they could not put their players "in a position where they could face sporting sanctions".

"We are very frustrated by the Fifa decision which we believe is unprecedented," the statement read.

The governing bodies - England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland - said they had written to Fifa in September informing them about the OneLove armband but not received a response.

"Fifa has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," the statement added.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband.

"However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play."

In response, Fifa has brought forward its own "No Discrimination" campaign, which had been due to start from the quarter-finals.

Captains will now be permitted to wear a No Discrimination armband for the duration of the tournament.

England begin their World Cup campaign against Iran at 13:00 GMT on Monday, while Wales play the United States at 19:00.

In an additional statement, the Football Association of Wales said: "We're frustrated. We're disappointed.

"But we remain with the belief that football is for everyone and stand with our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family.

"Football for everyone."

BBC Analysis editor Ros Atkins looks at the controversies around the Qatar World Cup

FSA feels 'betrayed' by Fifa

Fifa's warning that it would impose sanctions on any captain who wore a OneLove armband has been criticised, with the Football Supporters' Association saying in a statement it felt "betrayed" by football's world governing body.

"Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance," it added.

"Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure.

"No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women's rights, workers' rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.

"It's astonishing that, on the morning of England's World Cup opener, Fifa are censoring players and the nine national FAs who wish to share a positive message."

3LionsPride, an England fan group for LGBTQ+ supporters, said the decision was "more than disappointing" and added that captains' "basic rights to freedom of speech and expression" were being crushed by Fifa.

The decision was also condemned by anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out.

"We are disappointed that Fifa are intent on imposing sanctions on European nations who choose to wear the OneLove armband, preventing teams from sending a strong statement to the world that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the game," it said in a statement.

"This decision continues to highlight Fifa's failure to address concerns of both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in the build-up to this tournament.

"Players and fans should not have had to bear the burden of Fifa's mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate, and his team, as they look to explore other ways to support inclusion in football."

The Netherlands began the OneLove campaign before Euro 2020 as a message against discrimination.

Same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar.

On Saturday, Fifa president Gianni Infantino accused the West of "hypocrisy" in its reporting about Qatar's human rights record.

Harry Kane of England wearing a One Love
The OneLove armband promotes diversity and inclusion - and is a symbol aimed at standing up to discrimination

Analysis

Jack Murley, presenter of the BBC's LGBT Sport Podcast, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live

If you're Harry Kane and you can risk a booking and miss the World Cup final by wearing this armband, you can see why he wouldn't necessarily do it. The flip side to that is what's the point of a protest if it doesn't actually make a splash; if there are no stakes to it?

It's not as if players do not have power and influence in this situation, but it's a difficult one to ask them to exert on the biggest stage of their lives.

The question really should be why have they been put in this situation on the day of the game? Fifa has known for months and months they wanted to wear this armband. Why are we only having this conversation now?

We've now got to a point where Fifa has spent years saying this World Cup is for everyone. It's now essentially said that if you wear an armband symbolising that it's OK to be gay, you'll get booked.

Fifa has a lot of explaining to do about how those two things marry up. There will be a lot of LGBTQ+ people who are not only entirely unsurprised by this decision, but also absolutely furious.

It feels like a gut punch that a symbol for who you are being OK can get you booked at football's greatest tournament. That is an extraordinary place to arrive at in 2022.

BBC Sport app banner

Get the latest results and goal notifications for any team at the Fifa World Cup by downloading the BBC Sport app: Apple - Android - Amazon

BBC Sport bannerBBC Sounds logo

Get your daily dose of Fifa World Cup reaction, debate & analysis with World Cup Daily on BBC Sounds

Around the BBC footer - Sounds