Wales wont wear anti-discrimination armband at World Cup after FIFA threaten ‘sporting sanctions’
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.
“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.”
Wales skipper Gareth Bale was due to wear the OneLove armband in the match against the United States later in the evening.
The band contains the rainbow colours associated with the Pride flag and had been set to be a strong statement in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships.
We’re frustrated. We’re disappointed.
But we remain with the belief that football is for everyone and stand with our LGBTQ+ members of the Welsh football family.
— FA WALES (@FAWales) November 21, 2022
The statement continued: “We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.
“Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”
FIFA announced on Saturday its own plans for an armband to highlight a series of social campaigns at each stage of the tournament.
‘No discrimination’ had been due to be the theme for the quarter-finals but the global governing body confirmed on Monday, within seconds of the joint FAs’ release, that it had been brought forward.
The statement also reminded teams that “For FIFA Final Competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”
The FIFA statement added: “FIFA is an inclusive organisation that wants to put football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but it has to be done within the framework of the competition regulations which are known to everyone.”
The Football Supporters’ Association issued a scathing response.
“To paraphrase FIFA president Gianni Infantino – today LGBT+ football supporters and their allies will feel angry. Today we feel betrayed,” it read.
“Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance.
“Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.