England and Wales are among nations weighing up whether to continue with their plans to wear a ‘OneLove’ armband at the World Cup after a late FIFA threat of sporting sanctions.
England’s Harry Kane and Wales’ Gareth Bale are among the captains of nine European countries planning to wear the rainbow armbands in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are criminalised.
The armband, a multicoloured design with the words ‘OneLove’ and a number 1 inside a heart, is aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion.
But FIFA is now warning that wearing it could result in a yellow card for the respective captains and has launched its own armband initiative which is promoting social messages.
The English FA is prepared to be fined over the issue but the risk of sporting sanctions against a player may mean they now have to abandon their plans to do it.
The FA is seeking clarification with football’s world governing body on the matter before the making a final decision ahead of Monday’s Group B opener against Iran.
Speaking on Sunday, Kane said he was preparing to wear the armband. Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk and Germany captain Manuel Neuer have also maintained they plan to wear it.
Kane said: “I think we’ve made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband.
“I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment, and I’m sure by game-time tomorrow they will have their decision. But, yeah, I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it.”
Asked for his opinion given the apparent threat of a yellow card, boss Gareth Southgate added: “There’s nothing I can add to what Harry has said.
“I know there are some conversations going on. I think a number of European countries have spoken.
“We’ve made our position clear, so hopefully everything will be resolved before the game.”
Wales captain Bale, whose side face the USA on Monday, said: “For us as players we are fully behind it and support everything we can do. Us as footballers, the most we can do is make awareness and it’s for people higher up to hopefully make change for the better. We support everything in terms of the armband and we’ll be doing as much as we can to hopefully get change in the right way.”
Meanwhile, Netherlands captain Van Dijk said he also plans to wear the armband against Senegal on Monday in their Group A clash, but admitted he may have to change his stance if FIFA follow through with their threat of sanctions.
“I will wear the OneLove armband tomorrow,” said the Liverpool star.
“Nothing changed from our point of view. If I will get a yellow card for wearing it then we would have to discuss it because I don’t like to play while being on a yellow.”
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