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World Cup: England and Wales opt not to wear OneLove armband after FIFA threat

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England and Wales are among the European nations facing backlash for opting not to wear OneLove armbands at the World Cup in Qatar.

Harry Kane and Gareth Bale, the respective captains of England and Wales, had previously committed to wearing them during matches to promote diversity and inclusion in a country which has a dire record on human rights and equality.

LGBTQ+ people are routinely subjected to discrimination and harassment in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. However, it has been announced that the aforementioned teams will be among a number of other European nations opting against wearing the armbands. “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland said on 21 November. “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.” The teams added that they were willing to “pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations” but “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 OneLove armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response,” the statement continued.

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