England and Wales have backed down and decided not to wear OneLove armbands after a threat from FIFA that captains could face an instant yellow card for doing so.
“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.
“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 said they were prepared 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 One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response,” the statement added.
England open their World Cup campaign later today against Iran, and Wales play USA in the evening match.
It comes after FIFA president Gianni Infantino said “today I feel gay” during a tirade to journalists on Friday in which he suggested he understood the plight of various oppressed groups because he had red hair.
“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel (like) a migrant worker,” he said.
“Of course I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled.
“But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied, as a foreigner in a foreign country.
“As a child I was bullied – because I had red hair and freckles, plus I was Italian, so imagine.”
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