What is the 'One Love' armband row at FIFA World Cup and why teams have ditched the plan to wear it?

What is the 'One Love' armband row at FIFA World Cup and why teams have ditched the plan to wear it?

Updated: 5 days, 6 hours, 43 minutes, 28 seconds ago

In a tense meeting at the FIFA World Cup on Sunday, FIFA tried to end a standoff with European teams over plans to wear unauthorized captain armbands, showing support for an anti-discrimination campaign, in Qatar. But, it didn’t work.

The simple version of the story is that seven European football federations wanted to wear ‘One Love’ armbands as a protest against Qatar’s human rights controversies. But FIFA wanted them to avoid wearing those armbands. However, they failed to persuade the teams.

That propelled FIFA to threaten the teams with disciplinary actions and the European nations finally decided to do away with their plans, hours before their campaign would kick off on Monday

However, as the controversy has gained pace, let us look at what is it all about!

National federations have released the following statement.

— FA WALES (@FAWales) November 21, 2022

What is the One Love campaign and what is the One Love armband?

The One Love campaign was a Dutch Football Association initiative, started in 2020. The aim was to speak against all forms of discrimination and send across a message of unity.

The armband features a rainbow-schemed heart design which represents ‘everyone’s pride of the heritage, race, gender, identity, and sexual orientation.’

A white ‘1’ appears in the middle of the heart, with the words ‘one’ and ‘love’ written on either side of it.

What are the initial instances of the use of One Love armbands?

Last year, Georginio Wijnaldum wore the armband at a European Championship game in Hungary with the consent of UEFA, the governing body of European football.

Why were the European nations willing to wear the armbands?

Seven European federations wanted to wear the One Love armband at the FIFA World Cup 2022 to protest against and show disapproval of the host nation Qatar. To promote inclusivity in Qatar where same-sex relationships are against the law. The armbands were also to be a show of solidarity and equality.

Qatar has been reportedly and repeatedly blamed for human rights violations including the death of labourers while constructing the stadiums, violation of women’s rights, and intolerance of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In September, 10 European teams said their captains would wear the armband in upcoming UEFA-organized games. Eight of those who had qualified to play in Qatar said they would also ask FIFA for permission. France has since withdrawn support citing a wish to show respect for Qatar.

What is the law in Qatar?

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and can lead up to punishment including a jail sentence up to seven years. The law also states that Muslim men engaging in homosexual activity could face the death penalty as well in the Sharia courts.

The Human Rights Watch Group recently claimed that Qatar’s security forces have randomly arrested LGBT people and ill-treated them in detention.

“While Qatar prepares to host the World Cup, security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are, apparently confident that security force abuses will go unreported and unchecked,” said Rasha Younes, an LGBT rights researcher with the Human Rights Watch.

“Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people. The world is watching,” she added.

Why did FIFA deny wearing armbands?

FIFA’s stance was to not allow the use of the One Love armbands and it held a meeting with the European federations on 19 November.

FIFA wanted seven European football federations to back down from allowing their captains to wear One Love armbands and instead wear armbands suggested by them.

Harry Kane will instead wear the FIFA armband v Iran. What a sorry mess.

— James Olley (@JamesOlley) November 21, 2022

But they failed to persuade the Europeans with a counter-proposal announced Saturday, and backed by United Nations agencies, of armbands with socially aware, though generic, slogans.

“FIFA came up with their own armband idea just two days ago. That was not acceptable for us,” German football federation president Bernd Neuendorf told German broadcaster ZDF.

The FIFA choice of slogans for group games includes “SaveThePlanet,” “ProtectChildren” and “ShareTheMeal.” The slogan “NoDiscrimination” — the only one aligned with the European teams’ wish — will appear at the quarter-final stage.

What is the FIFA rule for wearing of captain’s armband?

The armband dispute would however be a clear breach of FIFA regulations if the nations had chosen to wear it.

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

A similar rule is written into tournament rules for this year’s World Cup.

FIFA would typically open disciplinary cases if teams breached the rule, but its scope for punishment is likely limited to imposing fines of about 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,500) on some of its wealthiest member federations.

How has the dispute concluded?

The European teams including England and Germany abandoned the plan to wear the One Love armband owing to the threat of disciplinary actions from FIFA.

“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the federations said in a joint statement.

Alex Scott is wearing a OneLove armband while reporting on England’s World Cup game in Qatar. pic.twitter.com/bHDWqGRFzY

— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 21, 2022

The federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland further stated: “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.”

England will face Iran, whereas the Netherlands will play against Senegal on Monday.

With inputs from The Associated Press

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