England's Football Association was 'blackmailed' into dropping the OneLove armband at the World Cup this week, it has been claimed.
The Three Lions' opening match against Iran on Monday saw the English FA make a U-turn on its decision to wear the bands, over the threat of 'extreme blackmail', the German Football Association has claimed.
The UK football captains, along with other FAs, were expected to wear the badges. However, just hours before England and Wales' first games of the tournament, a statement from the FA said respective captains Harry Kane and Gareth Bale wouldn’t be wearing the One Love armbands, which are designed to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, due to potential sanctions imposed by FIFA.
The Football Association said: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.
"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 FA continued: "We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband.
"However, we 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 One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.
"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."
Germany also made a U-turn on its plans to wear the bands, with DFB media director Steffen Simon explaining to German Deutschlandfunk radio that they faced 'extreme blackmail'.
"The tournament director went to the English team and talked about multiple rule violations and threatened with massive sporting sanctions without specifying what these would be," he said.
"We lost the armband and it is very painful but we are the same people as before with the same values. We are not impostors who claim they have values and then betray them.
"We were in an extreme situation, in an extreme blackmail and we thought we had to take that decision without wanting to do so."
England captain Harry Kane spoke of his disappointment over the decision, telling the Guardian on Monday: “We’re disappointed. I said yesterday we wanted to wear it. That decision was taken out of my hands today.
"I turned up to the stadium with the armband that I wore and I was told I had to wear that [the official FIFA one]. It’s out of our control as players.
"I’m sure the FA and FIFA will continue those discussions but most importantly today we focused on the game and got a great result.”
The last-minute change has left a bitter taste for some fans, however, with many branding the decision ‘spineless’.
LADbible has contacted FIFA and the FA for comment.
In a statement released on Monday, FIFA said: “Fifa can confirm its No Discrimination campaign has been brought forward from the planned quarter-finals stage in order that all 32 captains will have the opportunity to wear this armband during the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022.
“This is in line with Article 13.8.1 of the Fifa equipment regulations, which state: ‘For Fifa final competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by Fifa.’
“The Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 regulations, as approved by everyone in the game, exist to preserve the integrity of the field of play for all participants and are equally applicable to all competing teams.
“Fifa is an inclusive organisation 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.”
Featured Image Credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo/BBC
- Harry Kane breaks his silence after not being allowed to wear a One Love armband at World Cup
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- Qatar says the OneLove armband sends a very ‘divisive’ message during the World Cup
- Wales fan dies in Qatar while supporting his country at World Cup