LGBTQ people in Qatar can be jailed and are regularly abused by law enforcement.
And the seven European clubs competing in the World Cup won’t even risk their captains getting penalized with yellow cards to show nominal support for LGBTQ rights.
The national soccer federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands announced Monday their captains will not wear OneLove anti-discrimination armbands during their opening World Cup matches.
Apparently, FIFA threatened to sanction captains with yellow cards if players participated in the campaign.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” a joint statement from the federations read, via ESPN. “As national federations, we can’t 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.”
Heroically, the federations said they were prepared to pay fines, but the prospect of their captains being issued a “warning” at the start of the match was too much.
For those who need a quick refresher, players need two yellow cards, not one, to be ejected from a match.
At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a very big deal. But a player can be suspended for getting tagged with two yellow cards in a game, and two yellow cards in one game also yields a suspension.
While the penalty is ridiculous, European clubs’ abandonment of the OneLove campaign shows there is a limit on their support for LGBTQ people.
Captains face yellow card for wearing the One Love armband, whilst LGBTQI+ people in Qatar face the death penalty for being themselves…— Beth Fisher (@BethFisherSport) November 21, 2022
One love until it gets hard aye! ✌
My timelines are filled with sadness, anger, despair and fear over the shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) November 21, 2022
And also filled with news FIFA will card any European team player for wearing a One Love armband.
Stay strong LGBTQ+ family and friends.
In-lieu of the OneLove bands, some players, such as England captain Harry Kane, will wear a FIFA-permitted band that says “No Discrimination” for their opening game. (On Monday, FIFA also ordered Belgium to remove the word “love” from the inside of their shirts. We swear this isn’t a parody.)
FIFA’s decision to dissuade players from expressing any dissent towards Qatar’s authoritarian regime is odious and shameful. In a laughable press conference Saturday, FIFA head Gianni Infantino said European countries should “apologize for the next 3,000 years” before admonishing Qatari royals for imposing medieval rule on their citizens.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino at news conference in Qatar: “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker” pic.twitter.com/1flQtGWAfS— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) November 19, 2022
FIFA is cow-towing to one of the most hostile governments in the world towards LGBTQ people, and this unconscionable ruling is another example.