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.
On the eve of the World Cup, however, FIFA instead launched its own armband initiative. Captains have been asked to wear a different armband on each match day, promoting social messages such as “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.
Germany captain Manuel Neuer said he would continue to wear his ‘OneLove’ armband regardless, while Wales are also planning for Gareth Bale to wear the design against the United States. Harry Kane said on Sunday that England had “made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband”.
But, just hours before England open their campaign with a match against Iran, the Football Association remains in the dark about whether Kane will be permitted by FIFA to wear the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband and — if not — what the sanction for doing so will be.
A fine is something that England are prepared to accept for wearing the armband, but it has not yet been decided how the FA would proceed if it was threatened with sporting sanctions.
These sanctions could — according to FIFA’s rulebook — include Kane being shown an automatic yellow card should he take to the pitch wearing the multicoloured design instead of one of FIFA’s sanctioned armbands.
FIFA’s recent announcement that it was launching its own armband initiative leaves the FA in a difficult position given their repeated support of the ‘OneLove’ campaign.
Kane wore the armband in both of England’s Nations League matches in September. In the same month the FA wrote to FIFA along with a number of other European nations to say that they intended to support the campaign at the World Cup. And, at one point, there was optimism that these nations would receive formal permission to wear the design.
But, as the tournament drew closer and the associations continued to ask questions of FIFA, they did not receive answers.
At this point, the FA confirmed publicly that England intended to wear the armband for all of their World Cup matches and that, should permission not be granted, they would be prepared to pay a fine.
But this decision could be reversed if FIFA make it clear Kane will be booked for wearing the armband and there is thought to be major frustration at the FA to find themselves in such a position so close to the opening match of the tournament.
Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk reaffirmed his plans to wear the armband against Senegal but admitted he “would have to discuss it” ahead of future matches should he be booked.
The ‘OneLove’ campaign was started prior to 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 initially started by the Dutch Football Association, who say “the creators want to express their support for unification of all people and at the same time they want to speak out against all forms of discrimination”.
The armband, which does not specifically reference homophobia or any other forms of discrimination, is a multicoloured design with the words ‘OneLove’ and a number 1 inside a heart.
Same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar.