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World Cup Teams Scrap Rainbow-Armband Plan After Yellow Card Threat

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:

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:

(My thanks to Jamie Rathjen for the Alex Scott tweet.)

Comments (20)

    The red card threat is worse than state here: A red card, including one issued after a second yellow, also disqualifies the sent-off player from the following game.

    So far, FIFA has last-minute reversed itself on several items to, purely by coincidence, agree with the Qatari government’s preferences: Changing the time and date of Qatar’s first game; banning alcohol sales; banning expressly pro-LGBT rights statements by teams on the field. In effect, FIFA is not running this tournament, Qatar is. Which is at least an instructive counter-lesson to the widespread belief in FIFA’s unique power. 2026 organizers in North America should take the lesson and plan to dictate terms instead of instinctively giving FIFA whatever it demands. Especially in the final months before the tournament, FIFA is not going to take its ball and go home.

    Also, Qatar (not FIFA this time) has banned public Jewish prayer and the sale of kosher food: link

    “2026 organizers in North America should take the lesson and plan to dictate terms instead of instinctively giving FIFA whatever it demands. ”

    Not gonna work. FIFA sportocrats are reflexively fascist and Qatar’s demands are easy for them to agree with. 2026 organizers will never be able to dictate terms of freedom and dignity, only repression.

    The other part of the automatic yellow card is that for those who are unaware, literally every soccer tournament has a rule nobody likes where anyone who gets yellow cards in two separate games before a defined point (usually the quarterfinals or semifinals) is also suspended for one game, so anyone wearing the armband twice in a row would have had that happen.

    FIFA just continues to demonstrate they they are nothing but corrupt garbage.
    If teams had any real courage they would have refused to compete in this World Cup. But then, of course FIFA would likely ban them from the next one to exert their corrupt authority.

    If I’m not mistaken, I believe number of yellow and red cards received is also an eventual tie-breaker in the group stage to qualify for the knockout round

    The seven teams were already doing the bare minimum. The rest of the nations at the Men’s World Cup are doing even less.

    Women and girls in Iran are risking their lives and imprisonment for equality. Russian mothers, the same regarding their children being taken for a brutal, unjust war. Meanwhile, in Qatar, seven of the best-known soccer players are intimidated by a yellow card?

    This morning, the Iranian national team refused to sing their country’s national anthem in support of those women and girls back home. Again, far riskier than a yellow card.

    Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Toni Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Marco Lokar and countless others have risked far more for a crucial principle. They didn’t worry about the consequences.

    How? By which I mean, exactly what dollar does FIFA earn here that it hasn’t already pocketed? Far as I can tell, the answer is none. This decision makes FIFA no money at all. The decision comes with a slim chance of losing previously committed sponsorship or advertising income. If FIFA were just chasing filthy lucre, it would have stood up to Qatar on a few of the recent disputes.

    Chasing the bucks at all costs would at least have the virtue of displaying a consistent value structure. This seems different to me. FIFA’s decisionmaking in recent weeks seems about actively collaborating with oppression and evil than any merely mercenary pursuit.

    They’re sending a message to the next unpleasant government they’re partnering with for billions of $: “We’re a compliant partner.”

    Yikes. If FIFA usually allows this but decided to outlaw it at the behest of the hosting nation then why would FIFA hold their tournament somewhere that does not reflect the values FIFA “stands for”? I mean we know the answer…
    Just another reminder that many of these sports organizations and their advertising partners stand for something only when it is good for their bottom line. I’d have tons of respect for any organization who pulled out of the World Cup because of this. As well as for any player / team that was willing to take the penalties.

    I’ve seen several how to pronounce Qatar articles. If we changed our pronunciation because we liked what Ukraine was doing this spring should we not make a point of mispronouncing Qatar in as many silly ways as possible?

    How about we just play the sport and leave the politics out of the game and uniforms?

    The entire process for selecting a country to host the World Cup is political.

    So you applaud the fact that tens of thousands of people have been essentially murdered by Qatar while building the facilities for the World Cup.

    You applaud the fact that Quatar is openly engaging in blatant anti-semitism.

    You applaud the fact that LGBT people have been threatened with beatings or being killed if they attend the World Cup by the Quatar government.

    Hear hear! Also, this is overtly a competition among and between states, which are themselves political entities. One could conceivably hold a non-political varsity track meet, but one cannot, by definition, hold a non-political World Cup. Or Olympics. Don’t want politics mixed with your sports? Then avert your eyes from tournaments held between countries. The World Cup is inherently political. Always has been, always will be.

    And if you listen to the FIFA president, Europe and the US are no better. Remember when you point a finger of blame at someone, the fingers point back at you.

    Also remember that this World Cup was placed in Qatar because of money pure unadulterated money. Not politics. Money. All FIFA wants or loves is money.

    If that’s true, then we had no business blaming the 3rd Reich (host of the 1936 Olympics) for its policies?

    And yes, if it’s blood money, it’s political. Dictators can seize the resources of an entire citizenry to finance their propaganda projects, which then help to keep them in power. If we don’t have the perception to recognize that as being qualitatively different than how non-dictatorships operate then we are really blind.

    “Bread & circuses” was a political observation.

    I don’t mind criticism directed at my country! If it’s valid, that’s a call for us to do and be better. And if, as in the specific case of the FIFA president, it’s not valid, then it’s just a foreigner telling lies, and that sort of thing rolls right off my back.

    I’ve never understood the mindset of “don’t criticize other countries because they might criticize your country.” So what? Is the goal of life, or of international relations, to avoid ever hearing criticism?

    Not being able to wear an armband as a captain that promotes inclusion and banning shirts that have the simple word LOVE printed on the inside collar are just two examples of how politics and uniforms are mixed during this tournament. FIFA has even advised teams against auctioning off game worn shirts with proceedings going to victims of the building scandal involving the stadiums. They cannot enforce it but they have issued an advice with the message: do not mix sports and politics. Or else…

    FIFA has banned the Belgian away shirts with the word LOVE printed INSIDE the collar, so impossible to see from the outside. They will do everything to please the hosts. The North American pro leagues are amateurs when it comes to commiting crimes against humanity compared to FIFA. Fun fact from the tournament I will not watch: sponsor Budeweiser is stuck with a warehouse full of beer it cannot sell during the games. So they promised this to the winning team of the tournament. People in my country, the Netherlands, are already joking that this is not a prize we should be happy to win: we prefer our Grolsch or even Heineken beer instead!

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