Qatar says the OneLove armband sends a very ‘divisive’ message during the World Cup
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England, Wales and other European nations announced they would wear OneLove armband as a sign of solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are illegal.
As a result, these national teams have backed out from wearing the bracelet as they do not wish to risk any ‘sporting sanctions’.
After the disciplinary threat was made, Al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the supreme World Cup committee for delivery and legacy, said he had an ‘issue’ with the armband.
He views it as a protest against the Gulf nation’s beliefs.
According to The Guardian, he told reporters: “If the teams decided to do it throughout the entire season, that is one thing.
“But if you’re coming to make a point, or a statement in Qatar, that is something I have an issue with.
"And it goes back to the simple fact that this is a part of the world that has its own set of values.”
He continued: “This is not Qatar I’m talking about, it’s the Arab world.
“For the teams to come and preach or make statements, that’s fine. But what you’re essentially saying is you’re protesting an Islamic country hosting an event. Where does that end? Does that mean no Islamic country can never be able to participate in anything?
“There’s going to be different values and different views coming in. So, for me, if you’re going to come specifically to make a statement here in Qatar – or specifically addressed to Qatar and by extension, the Islamic world – it leaves a very divisive message.”
The Qatar World Cup chief added he wants visitors to respect the values and religion of the nation, as it is 'fundamental' to unifying the world during the tournament.
The region has been widely condemned for its discriminatory policy around queer people.
While Qatar has said LGBTQI+ fans are welcome during the World Cup, they have also stated that public displays of affection are not allowed.
Fans and journalists sporting pride colours have also been refused entry to World Cup stadiums.
World Cup organisers have since apologised for these incidents while assuring fans that rainbow colours are allowed inside venues.