What is 'OneLove' armband and why did FIFA ban it?

OneLove armband
A woman sews Velcro on to a OneLove armband in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Here is what you need to know about the 'OneLove' armbands that the captains of seven European teams were planning to wear at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The 'OneLove' armbands were originally launched in 2020 as part of an inclusiveness campaign by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB).

The KNVB campaign opposes discrimination on the basis of race, skin colour, sexual orientation, culture, faith, nationality, gender, age and "all other forms of discrimination".

The design features a rainbow flag in the shape of a heart with a number one in the middle, surrounded by the text "One Love" on either side and the words "football connects" in cursive below.

The captains from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were planning on wearing the armbands to protest Qatar's laws against same-sex relationships.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Muslim country, and some soccer players have raised concerns for fans travelling to the event, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and women, who rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.

Less than two weeks before the finals, Khalid Salman, a Qatar World Cup ambassador and former international, told German broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality was "damage in the mind", adding that anyone coming to Qatar should "accept our rules here".

World Cup organisers have repeatedly said that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or background, is welcome during the tournament.

* Nasser Al Khater, the chief executive of the 2022 World Cup, has said LGBTQ+ fans coming into the country would not have to worry about "persecution of any sort", describing Qatar as a "tolerant country".

In a joint statement, the football associations of countries planning on wearing the armband said FIFA had threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing it.

According to FIFA rules, team equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images, and during FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each team "must wear the captain's armband provided by FIFA".

Wales said the countries involved had been prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations, but sporting sanctions had been a step too far.

German Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf said that although FIFA's decision was unprecedented, it was unfair for the players to shoulder the responsibility for any potential consequences if they decided to wear it anyway.

The Dutch FA said it had taken the decision not to wear the armband with "a heavy heart".

The move attracted swift and scathing criticism from groups representing the LGBT+ community.

"More than disappointing that @FIFAWorldCup and @FIFAcom silence & deflection means European captains face starting games with yellow cards for trying to highlight issues around human rights," 3LionsPride, a group representing England fans, said.

Amnesty International said FIFA was failing to uphold its own values and responsibilities.

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