The captains of several European teams will not wear “Onelove” armbands at the World Cup in Qatar due to the danger of receiving yellow cards.
England, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Wales are set to take part in the OneLove campaign to promote inclusion and fight discrimination.
But the countries’ associations said in a statement on Monday that the armband – which has a striped heart in different colors to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities – would not be worn in Qatar.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the joint statement read.
“As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.”
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and have a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they could be booked or even forced to leave the game field,” the statement added.
The decision not to display the armband in Qatar comes hours before England’s opening game against Iran, while Wales face the US and the Netherlands face Senegal later on Monday.
The countries said they were “frustrated” by what they described as FIFA’s “unprecedented” decision to sanction captains for wearing the armband.
“We wrote to FIFA in September and informed them of our wish to wear the One Love Armband to actively support inclusion in football, and have had no response. Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in Other ways,” the statement continued.
In the build-up to the World Cup, Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison – is facing criticism for its stance on LGBTQ rights.
However, the country has repeatedly insisted that “everyone is welcome” in the tournament.
France have been part of the season-long campaign but last week captain Hugo Lloris told reporters he would “respect” the local culture during the tournament.
The Dutch Football Association, meanwhile, said on Monday it was “deeply disappointed” that captain Virgil van Dijk would have received a yellow card had he been wearing the armband on the pitch.