The English Football Association has scrapped plans to support LGBTQ+ rights by wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband at the World Cup finals in Qatar over fears players who do wear it will receive yellow cards. The FA had said it had been prepared to accept monetary fines to allow players to wear the armband but changed its policy once Fifa threatened to replace the fines with yellow and potentially red cards.
In a joint statement with the Welsh FA and other European football associations, the English FA said: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play. As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games," the joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland read.
"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented - we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response”.
Fifa has asked that all captains wear a different armband on each match day, promoting positive messages including ‘Football unites the world’, ‘Share the meal’ and “Bring the moves”. It has even been suggested that an official may be sent into dressing rooms prior to kick off to remove any of the ‘OneLove’ armbands.
England skipper Harry Kane spoke of his desire to wear the armband, saying “We’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband. “I know the FA are talking to Fifa at the moment and I’m sure by game time tomorrow they will have their decision. I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it.”
The Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, who is taking charge of his third major international tournament with England said “I know there are conversations going on. I think a number of European countries have spoken. We’ve made our position clear.”
England will now not wear the armband in the group B opener against Iran. Wales have also announced they will also opt against wearing it, meaning Gareth Bale will wear a different armband as they face the United States on November 21.