The captains of several European teams will not to wear “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup in Qatar due to the danger of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales were set to participate in the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and oppose discrimination.
But those countries’ associations said in a statement on Monday that the armband – which features a striped heart in different colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities – would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the joint statement read.
“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.”
“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,” the statement added.
The decision not to showcase the armband in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening game against Iran, while Wales faces the US and the Netherlands faces Senegal later on Monday.
The countries said they were “frustrated” by what they described as FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction the captains should they wear the armband.
“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,” the statement continued.
In the buildup to the World Cup, Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison – has come under criticism for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly insisted that “everyone is welcome” at the tournament.
France has been part of the season-long campaign but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters that he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
The Dutch football association, meanwhile, said on Monday that it was “deeply disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would get a yellow card if he were to wear the armband on the pitch.