Seven European World Cup teams have abandoned their plans to have their captains wear armbands in support of the LGBTQ community after FIFA announced they would be given a yellow card penalty if they did.
The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland intended to wear the bands in conservative host country Qatar, even willing to pay fines if necessary, however, were unwilling to let their players be penalized, The Washington Post reports. "As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings," the teams said in a statement.
The bands were part of the "One Love" campaign started by the Dutch Football Association. While not directly referencing the LGBTQ community, the armbands featured the iconic rainbow flag, a symbol of the community, Time explains. "This is an important message which suits the game of football: on the field everybody is equal and this should be the case in every place in society," said Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk back in 2020.
Qatar is notoriously anti-LGBTQ, and gay marriage is criminalized in the country. It has also arrested members of the LGBTQ community according to Human Rights Watch. The way Qatar has handled hosting the World Cup has sparked widespread controversy, with some boycotting the event altogether.
"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented," the teams said, adding that they "will show support in other ways."