England will wait to see how they might be punished by FIFA before deciding whether or not to support the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination campaign at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The captains of nine European countries, including England and Wales, had planned to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband in Qatar to promote diversity and inclusion.
However, on the eve of the World Cup, FIFA launched its own armband initiative instead. The captains were asked to wear a different armband every matchday to spread social messages like “football unites the world” and “share the food” in a United Nations-backed campaign.
Germany captain Manuel Neuer said he will still wear his ‘OneLove’ armband, while Wales also plan for Gareth Bale to wear the design against the United States. Harry Kane said on Sunday that England “have made it clear as a team and as a staff and as an organization that we want to wear the armband”.
But just hours before England open their campaign with a game against Iran, the Football Association remains in the dark about whether Kane will be allowed by FIFA to wear the “OneLove” captain’s armband and – if not – what the sanctions will be be.
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A fine is something England are willing to accept for wearing the armband, but it is undecided how the FA would proceed if threatened with sporting sanctions.
These sanctions could – according to FIFA rules – consist of automatically showing Kane a yellow card if he takes to the pitch wearing the multicolored design instead of one of the FIFA-sanctioned armbands.
FIFA’s recent announcement of launching its own wristband initiative puts the FA in a difficult position given their repeated support for the OneLove campaign.
Kane wore the armband in both English Nations League games in September. In the same month, the FA, along with a number of other European nations, wrote to FIFA to say they intended to support the campaign at the World Cup. And at one point there was optimism that these nations would be given formal permission to wear the design.
But as the tournament approached and the federations continued to ask questions to FIFA, they received no answers.
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At this point, the FA publicly confirmed that England intended to wear the armband at all World Cup matches and that they would be willing to pay a fine if permission were not granted.
However, that decision could be reversed if FIFA clarifies that Kane is being booked for wearing the armband and it is believed the FA are deeply frustrated to find themselves in such a position so close to the tournament’s opening game.
Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk reiterated his plans to wear the armband against Senegal but admitted he “would have to talk about it” ahead of future games should he be booked.
The “OneLove” campaign was launched ahead of Euro 2020 and is supported by the national teams of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, England, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Wales, Sweden and Switzerland.
The campaign was originally launched by the Dutch Football Association, which said: “The creators want to express their support for uniting all people while speaking out against all forms of discrimination”.
The bracelet, which makes no explicit reference to homophobia or other forms of discrimination, is a multicolored design featuring the words “OneLove” and a number 1 within a heart.
Same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalized in Qatar.
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(Photo: Getty Images)