A handful of nations have reversed course on their intentions to wear a social-justice inspired armband during their group stage matches after FIFA threatened strict punishment for any players who participated.
The captains of England, Wales, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark all originally planned on wearing an armband that said “One Love,” a clear jab at Qatar’s national policy of banning homosexual behavior. However, these nations have backed out of the demonstration after FIFA threatened team fines and an automatic yellow card for any nation’s captain who wore this insignia (accumulating two yellow cards in a match gets you kicked out for the rest of that game and disqualifies you from participating in your team’s next match).
"FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," the nations said in a joint statement. "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 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 'OneLove' 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 Dutch were the first to announce that their captain, Virgil van Dijk, would not be wearing the band.
As consolation for these social justice warriors, FIFA announced that an armband with the inscription “No Discrimination” would be made available for all rounds of competition after it was originally set to only be available during the quarterfinals.
Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand said he was disappointed by FIFA’s decision.
"Imagine going on the pitch with a clear yellow card to start with," Hjulmand said. "That is not possible. We have to make sure that it's not up to players to make that decision. This is not something invented for this occasion. It's something we have done before. I can't see the problem to be honest. For me, it's also a big question mark."
Imagine being so willing to cause a problem at an international soccer tournament that you’d support your captain wearing an LGBT-themed armband to stick your nose up at the host nation.
Leftist supporters have a trademark tendency of finding ways to create controversy, even if it is distasteful or highly unnecessary - which of course, this is. This tournament is not about whether or not you can change the social climate of a nation by wearing an armband - spoiler alert, you won’t - it is about proving whether or not you’re one of the best in world soccer.
French goalie and captain Hugo Lloris, who will be seeking to defend his nation’s 2018 title, seems to understand better than any athlete at this tournament.
“Us players are here to play football and represent our country on a sporting level,” Lloris said. “On that level, the first game is always extremely important, and as defending champions, the expectations are even higher for us."
Imagine a world where athletes put excelling at their craft as a higher priority than being voices for change - wouldn’t that be awesome.
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Ecuador fans chanted "we want beer" as their team went on to humiliate host nation Qatar in their first World Cup match.— MRCTV (@mrctv) November 21, 2022
Qatar had originally promised to sell beer at the World Cup, but ended up banning it completely just days before the first matches. https://t.co/dpNCI4VkWl