‘Football is not a place for everyone’: FIFA criticized for threatening OneLove armband

  • FIFA has promised to punish players for wearing anti-discrimination bracelets.
  • Seven captains of European nations had planned to wear OneLove armbands.
  • Captains would have received yellow cards for wearing the armbands, according to a FIFA decree issued on Monday.
Australian footballer Josh Cavallo – who was the first top professional player to come out as gay – says FIFA showed his sport isn’t for everyone by pledging to punish players for wearing anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup.
Seven European nations captains had planned to wear OneLove armbands at the World Cup in Qatar, a nation where same-sex relationships are illegal.

The captains wanted to wear the armbands to promote inclusion and diversity in football and in society.

But according to a FIFA decree issued on Monday, captains would have received yellow cards for wearing the armbands during matches.
“FIFA, you’ve lost my respect,” Cavallo posted on social media.

“All the work we are doing to make football more inclusive, you have shown that football is not a place for everyone.”

Republic of Ireland v Norway – International Friendly

The captaincy of Martin Ødegaard of Norway during the International Friendly match between the Republic of Ireland and Norway at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Source: Getty / (Piaras Ó Midheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Socceroos captain Mat Ryan said the FIFA bracelet edict had been distributed to all participating nations at the World Cup.

“I was told this would result in a direct yellow card,” Ryan said.

Ryan was among 16 Socceroos players who released a video message ahead of the World Cup calling on the host country to decriminalize same-sex relationships.

“Together with our players’ union, we made our statement a month ago…we were just trying to influence positive changes in the world,” he said.
When asked about his feelings on the federation’s decree, Ryan replied: “I have no comment. We’ve made our statement to our players’ union. That’s all we can control.”

England’s Harry Kane, Dutchman Virgil van Dijk and Welshman Gareth Bale were all set to wear the OneLove armbands in Monday’s matches.

The captains of Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark should also wear the armbands in the coming days.
But the seven European federations released a joint statement following the FIFA decree, saying they would not wear the armbands.

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

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand criticized the Seven Nations withdrawal.
“The first bump on the road and they folded like a deck of cards,” he told the BBC.

But Federal President Bernd Neuendorf said the step was an “unheard-of demonstration of power by Fifa”.

The Dutch FA said: “For FIFA to want to punish us on the pitch is unprecedented and goes against the spirit of sport, which unites millions.”
The OneLove campaign started in the Netherlands.

Its symbol was a heart-shaped multicolored logo that aimed to promote inclusion and diversity in football and in society.

The ribbon featured the rainbow colors associated with the Pride flag and was seen as a powerful statement in Qatar, a country that criminalizes same-sex relationships.
According to FIFA rules, team kits must not contain any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.

And during competitions, the captain of each team must “wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA”.

England vs IR Iran: Group B – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The armband worn by Harry Kane of England during the Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Source: Getty / (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

FIFA said on Monday that the captains of all 32 teams “will have the option” to wear an armband with the slogan “No Discrimination” in group matches.

The federation also refused Belgium permission to wear its second kit because of the word ‘Love’ in the collar combined with a rainbow-colored trim on the shirt.
If the word “Love” is removed from the inside of the shirt, the team is allowed to wear it.

The design was inspired by the fireworks of the famous Belgian music festival Tomorrowland, which stands for diversity, equality and inclusivity.

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