The national football teams of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland were announced in a joint statement released on Monday they announced that their captains will not wear rainbow armbands during the World Cup in Qatar.
During the final stages of tournaments organized by FIFA, the captains of each participating national team may only wear armbands approved and provided by the organization itself. The captains of the national teams who wrote the statement would have instead played with a non-FIFA authorized armband in support of the One Love campaign, which promotes inclusion and fights gender discrimination.
The national teams involved explained that initially they would have been willing to pay the penalties foreseen by FIFA for those who do not respect the regulations on game kits, but that they could not jeopardize the presence of their captains on the pitch, who could have received bookings or even “be excluded from the meetings”, as provided for in these cases by the international regulation.
Although FIFA has not provided further explanations for the ban on wearing rainbow bands, other than those relating to its regulations, the issue is linked to the host country, Qatar, which in the first article of its Constitution imposes Islamic law (sharia) as the main source of law. Furthermore, the ruling family has imposed Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative and particularly rigid doctrine of Islam, in the country. In Qatar homosexuality is therefore a crime that can also be punished with the death penalty.
Shortly before the start of the World Cup, Khalid Salman, one of the ambassadors of the demonstration, had said on German television that homosexuality was “a mental illness”. Salman then added: “During the World Cup many things will arrive in our country, and they will have to accept our rules”.
In recent days, France captain Hugo Lloris had dissociated himself from the intentions of the other seven European captains, saying at a press conference that he did not want to wear the rainbow armband as a sign of respect for the host country. As an alternative, FIFA will allow captains to use an armband in support of its generic #NoDiscrimination campaign, the use of which was previously originally planned only starting from the quarter-finals.