With threats of receiving penalizing yellow cards from the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the captains of seven European soccer teams will not wear pro-LGBTQ+ armbands during the World Cup, according to the Associated Press.
England’s Harry Kane, the Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk and Wales’ Gareth Bale were due to wear the One Love armbands in Monday’s games. The captains of Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark were also expected to wear the armbands in the coming days.
The decision comes after the European Football Association (FA) released a statement that advised players "not to attempt to wear the armbands in Fifa World Cup games." That came after FIFA officials, who had assured the FA of safety for LGBTQ+ supporters, refused to back down over their zero tolerance of the OneLove campaign.
If Kane or any other of the captains choose to go against the FA's advice, they could be penalized for wearing a OneLove armband against Iran in England's 2022 World Cup opener in Qatar. A yellow card is used to caution players, while a red card results in the player's dismissal from the field of play. If a player receives two yellow cards in one game, he gets an automatic red card.
Reuters reported that Kane spoke on Sunday of his wish to wear the armband during Monday's opening game against Iran. "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," the statement said. "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."
Kane’s comments came before England's match against Iran was due to kick off in Doha.
According to Reuters, England's Football Supporters' Association (FSA) said it felt contempt for FIFA. "To paraphrase FIFA president Gianni Infantino — today LGBT+ football supporters and their allies will feel angry," it said. "Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance."
"We believe [the decision] 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," the statement continued. "Our players and coaches are disappointed — they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."