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HomeSportsSoccerFIFA allows anti-discrimination captain's armbands at Women's World Cup

FIFA allows anti-discrimination captain’s armbands at Women’s World Cup

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The anti-discrimination “One Love” captain’s armband denied to teams at the men’s World Cup in Qatar will be worn at the Women’s World Cup next month, but in an amended version now approved by soccer authorities.

FIFA, the sport’s governing body, unveiled eight armbands on Friday that captains of the 32 teams can choose to wear in Australia and New Zealand during the tournament, which runs from July 20-Aug. 20.

They include a “Unite for Inclusion” option that is heart-shaped and multi-coloured but not quite the rainbow the Germany team wanted to use at the tournament, where a number of gay players will be among more than 700 selected on team rosters.

The armbands were developed over months of talks with national federations as FIFA aimed to avoid repeating the chaotic standoff with European players and officials last year that spilled into the first two days of games in Qatar.

A fan wearing a blue jersey with a rainbow armband is ushered out of the stadium by security.
A USA fan wearing a Rainbow Armband is seen leaving the stadium alongside local security prior to a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match in November. (Getty Images/Getty Images)

FIFA said Friday the inclusion option was worked on with the United Nations human rights office in Geneva.

It is almost identical to the One Love design from the Netherlands that was deemed unacceptable to socially conservative host nation Qatar seven months ago.

Six colours — red, black, green, pink, yellow and blue — are layered in exactly the same order, only now in horizontal stripes instead of the Netherlands-created One Love’s diagonals. The colours also correspond to the recognized flags of Pan-Africanism and pan-sexuality.

Inside the FIFA-approved heart design is another heart shape with the outline of what appears to be a family of three people.

In Qatar, where homosexual acts are criminalized and labour laws were widely criticized, FIFA came under pressure to ensure some European team captains did not wear the One Love armband as promised. As the World Cup opened on Nov. 20, England captain Harry Kane, Wales captain Gareth Bale and Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk were still expected to wear them in games the next day.

Talks in Doha included a confrontational meeting between FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura and European officials that raised threats of disciplinary action.

‘United, we can make a difference’

Samoura praised the agreement for the Women’s World Cup in a FIFA statement.

“Thank you to the players and the teams for sharing your support, for these causes,” she said. “United, we can make a difference.”

FIFA regulations mandate teams at the World Cup must wear only approved armbands and other equipment. The causes on display in Australia and New Zealand will include uniting for indigenous peoples, gender equality, ending violence against women, peace and zero hunger.

“Team captains will be given three options,” FIFA said. “They can wear the `Football Unites the World’ armband for the entire tournament, an armband corresponding to the theme of their choice for the entire tournament, or the armband corresponding to the theme of the specific match day.”

The causes will be promoted with advertising signs along the side of the field at the 64 games, pre-game flags on the field and social media campaigns.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the overall campaign was agreed on “after some very open talks with stakeholders, including member associations and players” plus U.N. agencies.

The co-hosts, who helped block an intended “Visit Saudi” sponsorship deal prepared by FIFA, will also highlight their First Nations people. The U.N.-promoted International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is on Aug. 9 — a rest day after the round of 16.

The agreement for this year’s Women’s World Cup won’t necessarily carry over to future FIFA tournaments.

FIFA stressed the need for “respecting global differences” in other nations.

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