Seven European teams at the men’s World Cup — England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands — announced on Monday that they were no longer planning to have their captains wear rainbow-striped “One Love” armbands in the first round of the tournament after the sport’s governing body, FIFA, said any captain who wore one would be issued a yellow card.
In soccer, a second yellow card in the same game automatically leads to a red card and the player’s ejection. So a player starting with the game with one yellow card already booked would have little margin for error — hence the teams’ decision to abandon the armbands.
The armbands were designed to show LGBTQ support — a charged issue in the World Cup’s host country, Qatar, where homosexuality is a crime. Teams had originally said that they were prepared to pay a monetary fine for wearing the armbands but backed down after FIFA issued the yellow card threat.
A different social-commentary armband will be made available for the first round. Per ESPN:
FIFA announced before the start of the tournament it would have seven different armbands available[, one] for each round of the competition, each with various social messaging slogans. But soon after the seven nations announced they would not wear the ‘OneLove’ armband on Monday, FIFA announced it would make the “No Discrimination” armband available throughout the tournament, when it was previously set to be worn at the quarterfinal stage.
“Following discussions, FIFA can confirm its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarterfinals stage in order that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the statement read.
The United States team was not planning to wear the “One Love” armband. Instead, captain Tyler Adams will wear this FIFA-approved design:
Here’s a visual of the armband US captain Tyler Adams will wear vs. Wales. Unlike the European nations who planned then nixed “OneLove” armband, US always planned to have captain wear a FIFA-approved one.
— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) November 21, 2022
The armband situation is the latest of many controversies to roil this year’s World Cup, which is the first edition of the tournament to take place in the Middle East.
Update: BBC broadcaster Alex Scott is wearing one of the “One Love” armbands during today’s coverage:
— Anthony DiCicco (@DiCiccoMethod) November 21, 2022
(My thanks to Jamie Rathjen for the Alex Scott tweet.)