Plaid leader Adam Price slams FIFA decision to threaten World Cup players for One Love armbands
FIFA’s decision to threaten World Cup players for wearing an anti-discrimination ‘One Love’ armband is “hateful and demeaning,” Plaid Cymru’s leader has said.
Wales will not wear an anti-discrimination armband in their World Cup match against the USA on Monday after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions.
A joint statement from seven European nations who had signed up to the ‘One Love’ campaign – which included Wales and England – confirmed they had asked for the armbands to no longer be worn.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the statement began.
Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price – who is openly gay – said: “This is a World Cup where everyone is supposed to be ‘welcome’ – unless, of course, you are LGBTQ+ or an ally.
“Fifa’s decision to punish players for simply wearing One Love band is hateful and demeaning. They must immediately reverse their hurtful decision.
“The Football Association of Wales have worked hard to make the game safe and inclusive.
“That message of love and inclusivity must be carried into the world without fear or hate.”
Mr Price, who has spoken many times on LGBTQ+ rights, added: “Fifa must defend the rights of LGBT+ people no matter where the game is held.
“Plaid Cymru stands in absolute solidarity with the global LGBT+ community against bigotry, intolerance and discrimination.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Sport, Tom Giffard MS backed the Welsh FA’s ‘difficult decision’ to not instruct Gareth Bale to wear the armband, saying a booking would be unfair to the team and to him.
“The Welsh Football Association, among others, wrote to FIFA in September alerting them to the decision of players to wear the OneLove armband, to no response.
“The sudden change in decision here is clearly a sign of direct interference from FIFA as a result of reservations by the Qatari authorities.
“We back the Welsh FA’s decision to not instruct Gareth Bale to wear the armband, as subjecting him to a booking would be unfair to the team and to him.
“This difficult decision has in fact highlighted the issue, bringing it to the forefront of World Cup coverage, perhaps even more than simply wearing the armband could have.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “This decision is symbolic of the entire attitude of FIFA surrounding this tournament that should have never been awarded to Qatar in the first place.
“Sports is meant to be for everyone, yet LGBTQ+ have clearly not been welcome from day one.
“This decision also raises more questions over the Welsh Government and Mark Drakeford’s decision to attend the tournament, as I have previously stated, talks behind closed doors are not enough, especially if Qatar censors any public displays of solidarity.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will always stand up for the LGBTQ+ community, along with the woman and foreign workers who have also had their rights silenced or whitewashed in this tournament.”
LGBT football groups and politicians hit out at the governing body, with a campaigner saying teams had been “bullied” into not showing support for social causes.
A joint statement by Three Lions Pride and The Rainbow Wall, said: “In seeking to censor European FAs and players by forcing them to abandon using the ‘OneLove’ Armband aimed at tackling all forms of discrimination, Fifa are guilty of crushing the basic human rights to freedom of speech and of expression that every single one of us should have without question.
“In doing so, Fifa are guilty of silencing anti-discrimination work within the game and of giving a platform to hatred.
“This abuse of power by those who have chosen to remain silent for so long is a gross betrayal of trust and cannot be allowed to stand.
“We have no faith in Fifa, no trust in this World Cup.”
Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out said players “should not have to bear the burden of Fifa’s mistakes” in not addressing the concerns of human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in the run-up to the tournament.
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said it was “disappointing” that players faced punishment for supporting equal rights.
“The England & Wales players have my support,” she said on Twitter.
“The #OneLove armband promotes diversity & inclusion, which are values we will always stand up for.
“It is disappointing that our players are put in a position where they face being punished for supporting equal human rights.”
Wales is due to play its first game in the tournament against the USA at 7pm GMT today – after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.
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