The captains of several European teams will not wear “OneLove” armbands at the World Cup in Qatar due to the risk of receiving yellow cards.
England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales would join the “OneLove” campaign to promote inclusion and oppose discrimination.
But those countries’ associations said in a statement on Monday that the bracelet – 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 playing field,” the joint statement said.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to try to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup matches.”
“We were willing to pay fines normally applicable 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 can get yellow or even be forced to leave the field of play,” the statement said.
The decision not to display the armband in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening match against Iran, while Wales face the USA and the Netherlands later face Senegal.
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 bracelet 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 run-up to the World Cup, Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison – has come under fire for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly insisted that “everyone is welcome” at the tournament.
France have been part of the season-long campaign, but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Dutch football association said on Monday that it was “deeply disappointed” that the captain, Virgil van Dijk, would receive a yellow card if he were to wear the armband on the field.