FROM THE SENT IN DOHA. The World Cup loses some color. The rainbow bands so many waved in the last few days are back in the drawer.
The national sects that were ready to show their support for the Lgbtq+ community have decided to obey the kind calls of Fifa. No change of regulation, the simple rules as they were already written finally explained clearly, out of any possible misunderstanding, with an evident and concrete risk on the horizon that the brave captains decided not to run. After a few days of official requests and unofficial hesitations, everything was made very explicit this morning. Fifa supports the One Love campaign which carries the urgency of an inclusive society everywhere around the football fields, but reiterates that the captain’s armband is part of the match kit and approved ones must be used. As a sign of the grand opening, 48 hours ago, they also added some universal phrases to the classic design, with a related hashtag such as #savetheplanet. For the quarterfinals, the slogan #nodiscrimination can also be used, but One Love is not. Too much. We really like the concept, but not here, where everyone is obviously welcome anyway.
The ambiguity has always been there: balancing act between a sport that doesn’t want to keep anyone at arm’s length or even make Qatar nervous. The landlords have a special law to prevent gays from being seen around. So all welcome until you show yourself and the ban seemed unacceptable to England, Wales, Holland, Germany. Then came the talks in the big hotels and the federations received the message: whoever decides to wear the armband goes against the regulation and consequently can be booked. All very theoretical, Fifa has never said that the players would actually receive the yellow card which would leave them in the balance only that when the idea started circulating the turnaround was immediate.
The seven countries that have defined themselves as activists have decided that it does not suit them. And it’s legitimate, starting a World Cup with a yellow card in the first minute endangers one’s presence for the matches that count. True and the national teams are here to play, but if this was the state of mind it would have been better to avoid proclamations. The seven federations could have agreed to go ahead and leave Fifa in a really uncomfortable position, they preferred to call themselves “frustrated”. Anything goes, any decision is to be respected, everyone must feel free to support a cause or not, but not frustrated. Think how frustrated Iran defender Ehsan Hajsafi is who despite the possibility of being arrested, of being left without a passport or worse, has said that things don’t work in his country, people are not happy and the national team will give them a voice. Yes, Iran don’t wear the rainbow armband either, but unlike the other seven teams they never said he would. As long as it was comfortable.