European teams ditch pro-LGBTQ+ armbands at Qatar World Cup

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England captain Harry Kane will not wear a pro-LGBTQ+ armband Monday, during England’s opening match against Iran at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Along with six other European countries, England dropped plans for the captain to wear a “One Love” armband due to FIFA’s threat of “sporting sanctions” — likely yellow cards for offending players. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

“We cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play,” a joint statement from the Football Associations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland reads. The group of teams added that they are “very frustrated” after a letter sent to world football governing body FIFA in September informing about the wish to wear the armband went unanswered.

Over the weekend, the German and Danish teams had vowed that their captains would wear the armband, but those countries have now reversed their position.

Qatar has faced criticism ever since it was awarded the tournament in 2010 for its treatment of migrant workers, as well as its stance on the LGBTQ+ community and women’s rights.

The armband row follows other debates over strict rules at the Qatar World Cup, including a controversial last-minute decision to ban the sale of alcohol in match stadiums.

On Saturday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino blasted Western critics of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup, accusing them of “hypocrisy” before the start of the global football tournament.

Slamming FIFA and Qatar’s critics for double standards, Infantino said: “I think for what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3,000 years around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years, before starting to give moral lessons to people.” 

This post was originally published on Politico

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