FIFA Banned World Cup Players From Wearing A 'One Love' Armband & Here's Why It's A Shocker

Player's may be "forced to leave the field."

Virgil van Dijk wearing the One Love armband. Right: Harry Kane wearing the One Love armband.
Global Staff Writer

Virgil van Dijk wearing the One Love armband. Right: Harry Kane wearing the One Love armband.

It's safe to say Qatar has really been brewing controversy around the World Cup because of its human rights violations and laws against homosexuality.

In recent events, FIFA has threatened to issue yellow cards to any player who decides to wear the rainbow colour One Love armband at the World Cup, prompting seven European teams to back away from participating in the campaign, reported Al Jazeera.

FIFA's decision was released hours before the first game with England, a participating European country, was due to take place.

Here's everything you need to know about the controversy behind the armband during the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

What is the One Love armband?

Wearing armbands hasn't always been a part of soccer culture. The One Love armband campaign was first started in 2020 by the Dutch Football Association to "express their support for unification of all people," reported Time.

Eventually, it was decided that the One Love armband campaign would continue into the Qatar 2022 World Cup and the 2023 UEFA Nations League by nine European countries.

The captain of each country's team participating in the campaign was supposed to wear a rainbow-coloured armband saying "one love," including a heart with the number one inside it.

The rainbow flag is globally known as a symbol for the LGBTQ+ rights movement, although the armband didn't directly mention the cause.

The importance of wearing the armband gained even more traction because homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and members of the LGBTQ+ community had been mistreated and arrested as recently as September of this year, reported Human Rights Watch.

The Human Rights Watch has reported six incidents of beatings and five cases of sexual harassment of LGBTQ+ community members in Qatar from 2019-2022.

Because of these recent events, it was essential for the teams to participate in the One Love armband campaign to show their solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Harry Kane, the caption of team England, was looking forward to sporting the armband during England's first game on November 21 against Iran but ended up not wearing it because of the threat of being kicked out of the games as a whole.

However, he defied the rule by wearing an armband that said "no discrimination" instead.

Why was the One Love armband banned?

Several countries that were supposed to wear the armband, including England, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, Wales, and Germany, backed out from participating in the campaign because of a warning issued by FIFA.

FIFA's president Gianni Infantino made a statement during a press conference and said, "we have clear regulations on armbands," as per The Guardian.

"We have and engage in campaigns on different topics, campaigns which are universal," Infantino said. "We need to find topics that everyone can adhere to. This is an important element for us."

Infantino was referring to FIFA's equipment regulations regarding the team's uniforms, which prohibits team kits from including political statements.

"No item (of playing kit or other clothing or equipment or otherwise) may be worn or used in any controlled area if FIFA considers that it is dangerous, offensive or indecent, includes political, religious, or personal slogans, statements, or images, or otherwise does not comply in full with the laws of the game," says the regulation.

Eventually, the seven football associations that were due to participate in the campaign came out with a joint statement explaining why they would not be wearing the armband.

"FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," said a joint statement by the associations.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including booking, so we have asked the captain not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games."

The statement continued to explain that the federation was prepared to pay the fines that FIFA usually imposes for breaching uniform kit regulations, but the decision to issue yellow cards was new and they weren't prepared to subject their players to it.

"We cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play."

What's FIFA's plan with the One Love armband?

FIFA plans to threaten players with a yellow card, which can jeopardize the game and their ability to participate in the games.

The news about FIFA's decision to issue yellow cards was first made public by the Dutch association, who shared that their captain, Virgil van Dijk wouldn't be wearing the armband, reported ESPN.

"Today, hours before the first game, it has been made clear to us from FIFA [officially] that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the 'OneLove' captain's armband," said the statement by the Dutch. "We deeply regret that it was not possible to reach a reasonable solution together."

Who defied the rules against the One Love armband ban?

Some people are not ready to let go of the armband association so easily.

BBC presenter Alex Scott decided to defy the rules and wore the One Love armband during a broadcast after England's team decided to abandon the armband, reported the Evening Standard.

Sameen Chaudhry
Global Staff Writer
Sameen Chaudhry was a Staff Writer for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on TikTok drama and based in Toronto, Ontario.