Drama has exploded at the World Cup with FIFA outlawing “One Love” armbands at the 11th hour.
Hours after England captain Harry Kane and several other national captains declared they would defy any potential ban on the rainbow armbands, FIFA is reported to have finally dropped the hammer and banned the items outright.
European teams launched the “OneLove” initiative in response to the treatment of LGBTQ communities in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. At least seven teams have declared intent for their captain to wear the item at the World Cup.
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FIFA on Sunday AEDT proposed a series of alternative armbands featuring different social campaigns in response to the plans from the rogue European teams.
And the threat of sanctioning players by booking players and handing them a yellow card may have frightened off England, who’ll be the test case against Iran.
“We’ve had meetings this morning with FIFA and there are discussions carrying on,” FA CEO Mark Bullingham told the BBC.
“We’re very keen to wear the armband, we want to do it, but obviously we would need to consider the implications.
“Normally in this kind of situation there would be a fine, and we’ve said we’d be happy to pay that … because we think it’s important to show our support for inclusion.
“If this sporting sanction threat is real then we need to look at that, we need to step back and work out if there’s another way we can show our values.”
FIFA said in a statement its proposed armbands would promote social messages, including “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.
The move puts football’s world governing body on a collision course with teams such as Germany, whose captain Manuel Neuer said he would still wear a “OneLove” armband to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Other European nations are wearing (the armband) and it is good we are doing it together,” Neuer said on Saturday.
Denmark’s Christian Eriksen said his country’s captain Simon Kjaer would be wearing the rainbow armband too, regardless of any disciplinary action taken by FIFA.
“We as a country are wearing it, our captain will be wearing the OneLove armband,” Eriksen said.
“What the consequences will be I don’t know, but we’ll see.”
England’s Football Association are also believed to be ready to support the “OneLove” campaign regardless and are understood to be seeking clarity on whether the rainbow armband and the FIFA ones can be worn together.
FIFA has turned down several reported requests for clarification on the situation but has remained silent on the issue.
However, The Telegraph first reported FIFA has made a late call to outlaw the armbands.
The report reveals there are private fears from some European countries that their captain could be booked as soon as they step on the pitch.
The Associated Press reports the scope for any potential punishment would likely be limited to fines of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,500).
The armband dispute flared two months ago and does not seem even close to being resolved.
Kane will be the guinea pig subject as the first European captain to wear the armband at the World Cup when England takes on Iran from 12am Tuesday AEDT.
“I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it,” Kane said on Sunday in Doha.
Welsh coach Rob Page also confirmed superstar Gareth Bale will wear a rainbow armband.
Germany has been among the most vocal nation in committing to wearing the “One Love” armband.
“We will stay with the European position,” German soccer federation president Bernd Neuendorf said this week.
“FIFA came up with their own armband idea just two days ago. That was not acceptable for us.”
Adelaide United star Josh Cavallo on Monday morning also spoke out against the hosting of the tournament in Qatar.
Cavallo, the first active male professional footballer to publicly announce he is gay, said World Cup leaders have attacked the LGBTQ+ community.
The Socceroos make their World Cup debut in Wednesday morning’s opener against France having also made a powerful protest against the host nation and its record of human rights abuses.