FIFA threatens to force teams to stop wearing armbands in rebuke to Qatar

FIFA threatens to force teams to stop wearing armbands in rebuke to Qatar

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA’s threat of off-field punishment for players on Monday pushed back World Cup teams, abandoning plans for their captains to wear armbands, which host country Qatar has condemned as a humanitarian crisis. Rights are seen as a rebuke to the record.

Hours before the first players wearing armbands in support of the ‘One Love’ campaign were set to enter the field, football’s governing body warned that they would be immediately shown yellow cards – which two This will cause the player to be kicked out of the game. And also the future.

This changed the calculation for the seven European teams, who could expect only a penalty. The display is in violation of FIFA regulations.

The standoff was just the latest controversy to threaten to overshadow the game on the field. Since winning the right to host the World Cup in 2010, conservative Muslim Qatar has faced criticism for its treatment of low-paid migrant workers and women and its crackdown on freedom of expression. including It has come under particular fire for criminalizing homosexuality.

The decision came three days after the sale of beer in stadiums was suddenly banned under pressure from the Qatari government and two days after FIFA president Gianni Infantino made an unusual move to defend the host nation’s human rights record. Tried presented.

The captains of the seven European nations have pledged to wear armbands with the heart-shaped, multi-coloured logo of the ‘One Love’ campaign, which promotes inclusion and diversity in football and society. That has created the prospect of spectators around the world witnessing a symbol of discontent with the host nation and defying FIFA at the hands of England’s Harry Kane, Holland’s Virgil van Dijk and Wales’ Gareth Bale on Monday.

But in the end, the teams said they couldn’t sacrifice success on the field.

“As national federations we cannot keep our players in a situation where they face sporting sanctions including bookings.” The seven football federations said in a joint statement about the yellow cards.

The captains of Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark have also promised to wear armbands in the coming days.

“Our first priority at the World Cup is to win games,” the Dutch football federation said in a separate statement. “Then you don’t want the captain to start the game with a yellow card.”

The risk of a second yellow, which will see one player removed from the field for the rest of the game and banned from the next, is particularly problematic in a tournament where teams play just three games before the knockout stages begin.

National football federations and fan associations criticized FIFA for its decision to fine the players. Danish football federation chief executive Jakob Jensen told Danish broadcaster TV2 that the organization was “very disappointed with FIFA”, and German football federation president Bernd Neuendorf called it “another low blow”.

“FIFA today banned speech for diversity and human rights – these are values ​​it is committed to in its laws,” Neuendorf told reporters in Qatar. “From our point of view, it is more than disappointing and, in my opinion, unprecedented in the history of the World Cup.”

The UK Football Supporters’ Association has said it feels betrayed by FIFA.

“Today we feel insulted by an organization that has shown its true values ​​by handing out yellow cards to players and red cards to tolerance,” the FSA said.

Gurchtin Sandhu, of the Geneva-based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, said FIFA had put “athletes in a very, very strange” position.

“You have the hands of the national teams tied. They are there to compete,” he said.

He also raised the issue of defending Qatar’s Infantino on Saturday, lecturing Europeans who criticized the emirate’s human rights record and said he felt gay like a woman and a migrant worker. like Human rights groups have criticized Qatar’s treatment of these three groups.

“You don’t feel gay. You are gay,” Sindhu said.

It was not immediately clear what influence Qatar’s authoritarian government had on the arm’s length decision. Qatar’s government and its High Commission for Delivery and Legacy, which oversees the World Cup, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Europe’s plans were in breach of World Cup regulations and FIFA’s general rules on team equipment at the games.

“For final FIFA matches, the captain of each team must wear a captain’s armband provided by FIFA,” the equipment rules state.

The football governing body’s proposal, announced on Saturday, was for captains to wear armbands with socially conscious, albeit generic, slogans. In this proposal, armbands reading “No discrimination” – the only slogan chosen to match the demands of European teams – will only appear at the quarter-final stage.

On Monday, it proposed a compromise, saying captains of all 32 teams “will have the opportunity” to wear armbands with the slogan “non-discrimination” in group matches.

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