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‘It was a threat,’ German FA boss says of FIFA’s One Love armband ban

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By Nathalia Araújo

German football federation (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf said football governing body FIFA’s decision to ban the multi-coloured One Love captain’s armband at the World Cup “was a threat.”

Nations previously planning to wear the armband in Qatar in support of diversity and the LGBTQ community have backed down amid fears of sanctions from FIFA, a joint statement said on Monday.

The seven European nations who had signed up to the One Love campaign, including England and Germany, had previously said they were prepared to pay fines, but now stressed: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

“We cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” the statement added.

Neuendorf told a news conference that the move was an “outrageous demonstration of power from FIFA,” while DFB director Oliver Bierhoff said he was worried about the last-minute decision.

“Nothing was brought to us in the last few months,” he said, and added that Germany captain Manuel Neuer is “totally disappointed that he is not allowed to wear the armband.”

FIFA says political messages are not allowed and stressed in a follow-up statement that it is “an inclusive organization that wants to put football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but it has to be done within the framework of the competition regulations which are known to everyone.”

The participating nations had informed the federation in September about their wish to wear the multi-coloured armband in Qatar as a sign for diversity amid criticism of the host country for its human rights conditions and treatment of the LGBTQ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

The Dutch football association (KNVB) said: “The fact that FIFA wants to punish us on the pitch is unprecedented and goes against the spirit of the sport that unites millions.”

Thomas Hitzlsperger, DFB ambassador for diversity, said on Twitter: “Infantino has even managed to force the teams not to wear the One Love armband. How pathetic?! How about rainbow laces?”

FIFA announced on Monday that its “No Discrimination” campaign is to be brought forward from the planned quarter-finals stage so that “all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband” during the World Cup.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that FIFA’s actions over the armband were frustrating and a decision that “puts players in a very difficult position.”

“On LGBT rights more broadly, clearly Qatar’s policies are not those of the UK Government and not ones we would endorse,” the spokesman said.

The Football Supporters’ Association, the representative body for football fans in England and Wales, said they felt “betrayed.”

“Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup,” it said in a statement.

©dpa

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