What we know about the One Love headband ban at the World Cup in Qatar – DW – 11/22/2022

Under pressure from FIFA, the national teams of England, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Wales and Switzerland decided to stop using it world Championship football, which takes place in Qatar, a captain’s armband in the colors of the rainbow and with the inscription “One Love” (One Love). These bracelets are designed as symbols of footballers’ support for the LGBTQ+ community. How the International Football Federation motivated its decision and what experts think about it – in the DW material.

Who came up with the OneLove promotion and what does it entail?

The rainbow-colored heart-shaped headband with the number 1 in the center, worn by the captains of several European football teams ahead of the World Cup, is part of the OneLove campaign to promote inclusion and protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

The idea arose in September at the Dutch national team, which also included the captains of England, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales. The action was called OneLove. For the first time, the team captains in these bands came out in the games of the completed Nations League, which is held under the auspices of UEFA, and planned to play with them until the end of this season.

In September, the organizers of the promotion informed FIFA that they wanted to continue using this type of captain’s armband, but there was no response.

What the LGBTQ+ community is facing in Qatar

In Qatar, members of the LGBTQ+ community face off against each other serious legal problems. The fact is that according to the Qatari penal code, male homosexual relationships are illegal and are punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. Muslims under Sharia can face the death penalty for same-sex relationships. The government of Qatar does not recognize same-sex marriages or registered partnerships, and also prohibits any campaign in support of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Flags of LGBT and Qatar during the action in Amsterdam
Flags of LGBT and Qatar during the action in AmsterdamPhoto: Peter Dejong/AP Photo/photo alliance

How did FIFA justify the ban on the use of the One Love captain’s armbands?

Pronunciation The International Football Federation banning the use of One Love headbands was made on the eve of the match between England and Iran, with the captain of the founding fathers of football team Harry Kane wearing the rainbow headband.

Harry Kane
Harry KanePhoto: Javier Garcia/Shutterstock/IMAGO

The statement states that FIFA supports all legitimate promotions, including OneLove. At the same time, the document states that the International Football Federation is “an inclusive organization that aims to bring football to the benefit of society, supports good and legitimate causes, but must do so within known competition rules.”

FIFA, in turn, recalled that Article 13.8.1 of the equipment rules states that “the captains of all teams must wear the captain’s armbands issued by FIFA”. At the same time, the rules for holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were approved by all participants, the statement said.

If the team captains wear headbands that are not approved by FIFA, financial sanctions against the national federations of the offending countries are possible, as well as warnings or removal of the captains themselves before the start of the matches.

Protest by members of the LGBT+ community against the World Cup in Qatar
Protest by members of the LGBT+ community against the World Cup in QatarPhoto: Arnd Wiegmann/REUTERS

The International Football Federation, in turn, decided to launch an anti-discrimination campaign ahead of schedule at the start of the World Cup. Initially, it was planned that the captains of the national teams would be allowed to wear special bracelets with the inscription NoDiscrimination from the quarterfinals of the tournament. After the One Love headbands were banned, FIFA decided that the anti-discrimination campaign would continue throughout the championship.

How did the organizers of the OneLove company react?

The football associations of England, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales (the national teams of Norway and Sweden did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup finals) joint statement, saying that due to possible sanctions threatened by FIFA, they have been forced to stop wearing One Love rainbow headbands.

“We were prepared to pay the fines normally associated with equipment infringements, but we cannot put our players in a situation where they could be shown a yellow card or forced off the pitch. We are very disappointed with the decision, which we believe is unprecedented.” Players are disappointed but will show their support (to the LGBTQ+ community. – Ed.) in other ways,” the document highlights.

Why do experts believe that FIFA has broken its own rules?

The authors of Collinas Erben, a specialist podcast published in Germany for over 10 years that examines current football events from a referee’s point of view, believe that FIFA’s decision is not in line with its own rules. They wrote about it on Twitter.

In particular, the experts explain that FIFA can certainly order the wearing of a certain captain’s armband or subsequently impose sanctions on offenders: “But if the message on the armband is not clearly unsportsmanlike, the referee has no reason to give a yellow or show red card.” According to the authors of Collinas Erben, this is all the more strange when FIFA states in its statement that it is against discrimination and supports the LGBTQ + community.

The same logic applies to the clause prohibiting political expression. As stated in the rules of the International Football Federation, “Breach of this provision will result in sanctions being imposed on the player and/or team by the competition organiser, national football association or FIFA.”

For connoisseurs, this is also no reason to show a yellow or red card to a player. The authors of Collinas Erben are sure that FIFA, and not the referee on the field, should be responsible for imposing sanctions: “The latter only gives a personal punishment if the message is hurtful, provocative and the like. This, of course , does not apply to the One Love bracelet”.

How did the FIFPro International Union of Football Players react to the FIFA decision?

This has been announced by the international football association FIFPro pronunciation on FIFA’s decision. While acknowledging that there are previously approved FIFA World Cup kit rules, the union disagreed that “the captains will face sanctions affecting their participation in the World Cup because of the collective action taken by teams, federations and their leadership.”

Wearing the One Love armbands would make the captains agents of collective action and “it would be wrong to shift the threat of sanctions onto them”. “Players should have the right to express their support for human rights on and off the pitch – and we will support anyone using their own courts to do so. We believe the rainbow flag is not a political statement, but a statement of support.” for equality and thus for universal human right”, FIFPro is convinced.

What they say in Germany about the FIFA decision

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the German Football Association (DFB), called FIFA’s decision “an unprecedented event in the history of world championships”. “Today FIFA banned the statement on diversity and human rights. These are the values ​​they are committed to in their own statutes,” Neuendorf recalled. At the same time, he added that he wants to continue the dialogue with the International Football Association: “I am not interested in spoiling relations with FIFA. in the long-term.”

Bernard Neuendorf
Bernard NeuendorfPhoto: Federico Gambarini/dpa/picture Alliance

DFB chief Oliver Bierhoff said FIFA’s decision “is very similar to censorship”. “We may not be allowed to wear this bandage anymore, but we will still defend our values,” Bierhoff assured. According to him, the ban disappointed the players of the German national team and, first of all, the captain of the team, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (Manuel Neuer). “It is also a difficult situation for Manuel. He said he would wear a bandage. Now he is disappointed that it is not possible,” said Bierhoff, a former German striker.

The German media, in turn, called the attitude of the European football associations an expression of weakness. “Threat (by FIFA. – Ed.) was certainly enough to intimidate the rebels: the Germans, the British, the Danes, the Dutch, the Welsh, the Swiss and the Belgians all failed.

German goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer
German goalkeeper and captain Manuel NeuerPhoto: Ulmer/Teamfoto/IMAGO

It is repeated by the Nordwest-Zeitung. “As FIFA President Gianni Infantino falls to the host country of the World Cup, the German Football Association and other European associations show a lack of inner core. The DFB should have reacted to the consequences that FIFA threatened with a counter-threat. How could Infantino handles this as Germany, Would England and the Netherlands threaten not to enter the field?” asks the publication.

Following the DFB’s response to FIFA’s decision to ban the One Love headband, German supermarket chain Rewe announced the immediate termination of its cooperation with the DFB. The company wants to distance itself from FIFA’s position. “We stand for diversity, and football is also diversity. The scandalous behavior of FIFA is absolutely unacceptable to me as a CEO of a diversified company and a football fan,” said Lionel Souk, CEO of the Rewe group.

What did Thomas Hitzlsperger suggest?

And the former player of the German national team Thomas Hitzlsperger (Thomas Hitzlsperger), the first famous German football player to openly declare his homosexual orientation, came up with an original idea. He suggested on his Twitter that, following FIFA’s ban on rainbow captain armbands, the players would play in boots with rainbow laces at the World Cup in Qatar.

It can be assumed that this idea will also prove to be unviable due to FIFA’s position. Indeed, in addition to the ban on the One Love captain’s armband, the International Federation has already demanded that the Belgian team remove the word “love” from the collar of the “away” T-shirt. This decision was taken two days before the duel of the Belgians, bronze medalists of the previous world championship, with Canada.

Also see:

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at