FIFA has tried to end a stand-off with European teams about unauthorised captain armbands for an anti-discrimination campaign drawing attention to Qatar in a tense meeting at the World Cup.
- World Cup rules say captains must wear an armband provided by FIFA
- A debate about the “One Love” armband first flared several months ago and remained unsolved by the opening World Cup match
- The campaign promotes diversity and inclusion in soccer
However, it was unsuccessful.
FIFA wanted seven European soccer federations to back down from allowing their captains to wear “One Love” armbands — a heart-shaped, multi-coloured logo aimed at exposing the host country’s record on human rights.
During the latest meeting, FIFA failed to persuade the Europeans with a counterproposal — announced on Saturday, local time, and backed by United Nations agencies — of armbands with socially aware, though generic, slogans.
The urgency of the meeting at a luxury hotel in Doha was because England, the Netherlands and Wales all play on Monday in their respective World Cup opening games.
“I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it,” England captain Harry Kane said on Sunday evening in Doha, ahead of playing Iran.
Wales coach Robert Page said it would be “no different for us” at the late game on Monday against the United States.
The stand-off has set up the prospect of viewers worldwide seeing — in back-to-back-to-back games — a symbol disapproved by the host country and in defiance of FIFA on the arms of Kane, Wales captain Gareth Bale and Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk.
“We will stay with the European position,” German soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf said a day after team captain Manuel Neuer had promised to wear the “One Love” armband against Japan on Wednesday.
“FIFA came up with their own armband idea just two days ago. That was not acceptable for us,” Neuendorf told German broadcaster ZDF.
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Other officials declined to comment when leaving the meeting, but some noted the heated tone of exchanges.
FIFA also declined to comment but, on Saturday, said it was “committed to using the power of football to effect positive change around the world”.
The armband dispute flared two months ago and was still not resolved on the opening day of the tournament, despite being a clear breach of FIFA regulations.
“For FIFA final competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA,” the soccer body’s equipment regulations state.
A similar rule had been written into tournament rules for this year’s World Cup.
‘One Love’ vs FIFA’s in-house alternative
FIFA would typically open disciplinary cases if teams breached the rule, but its scope for punishment is likely limited to imposing fines of about 10,000 Swiss francs ($15,714.20) on some of its wealthiest member federations.
The “One Love” campaign promotes diversity and inclusion in soccer and was started in the Netherlands.
Last year, Georginio Wijnaldum wore the armband at a European Championship game in Hungary with the consent of UEFA, the governing body of European soccer.
In September, 10 European teams said their captains would wear the armband in upcoming UEFA-organised games.
Eight of those had qualified to play in Qatar and said they would also ask FIFA for permission.
France has since withdrawn support, citing a wish to show respect for Qatar.
FIFA had not publicly responded to the requests before president Gianni Infantino announced an in-house alternative in Doha.
The FIFA choice of slogans for group games include “SaveThePlanet”, “ProtectChildren” and “ShareTheMeal.”
The slogan “NoDiscrimination” — the only one aligned with the European teams’ wish — will appear at the quarterfinal stage.