What is the World Cup 2022 OneLove armband and why has it been banned?

    Germany football national team with the OneLove armband
    Team captains were planning to wear the OneLove armband at the Qatar World Cup (Picture: Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    Harry Kane was set to wear the OneLove armband at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – until FIFA intervened and threatened sanctions against the England team if they went ahead and wore it.

    It was announced on the morning of the team’s first group stage game against Iran that Kane wouldn’t be donning the sleeve accessory, after it became clear that the forward could be booked for wearing it before the first whistle.

    Captains of six other European nations were also set to wear the armband but followed suit in reversing their decision, with Germany protesting against FIFA’s directive before their game with Japan.

    But what exactly is the OneLove armband, and why has it been banned?

    What is the OneLove armband?

    The OneLove armband was designed to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ discrimination in Qatar, where same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalised.

    Harry Kane wearing the OneLove armband
    Harry Kane wore the armband during England’s Nations League fixtures earlier this year (Picture: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

    The Qatar Supreme Committee, the body in charge of organising the World Cup, said before the tournament: ‘Everyone will be welcome to Qatar in 2022, regardless of their race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

    ‘We are a relatively conservative society – for example, public displays of affection are not a part of our culture.

    ‘We believe in mutual respect and so whilst everyone is welcome, what we expect in return is for everyone to respect our culture and traditions.’

    Speaking about the decision to wear the OneLove armband before it was axed, Kane said: ‘I am honoured to join my fellow national team captains in supporting the important OneLove campaign.

    ‘As captains we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination.

    ‘This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society. Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.’

    Kane previously wore the armband during England’s Nations League fixtures in September.

    As well as Kane, and Wales captain Gareth Bale, the captains from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland had also pulled out of wearing it in light of possible sanctions by FIFA.

    The respective FAs issued a joint statement, which concluded that they were collectively ‘very frustrated’ by the decision – which they also called ‘unprecedented’ – as they wanted to ‘actively support inclusion in football’.

    It ended: ‘Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.’

    German players cover their mouth in protest at FIFA's decision to ban the OneLove armband
    Germany protested against the decision (Picture: Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

    Why has the OneLove armband been banned?

    Given same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar and can sometimes be punishable by death, the armband had become a sensitive issue in the country.

    As per current FIFA rules, ‘Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images…For any offence the player and/or the team will be sanctioned by the competition organiser, national football association or by FIFA.’

    Meanwhile, FIFA have ordered Belgium to remove the word ‘love’ from the back of their away shirt and have also stopped the team from wearing the rainbow-coloured warm-up shirt they were planning on wearing at the tournament.

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