England captain Harry Kane and other World Cup captains would not even have been allowed to step onto the soccer field if they had worn their OneLove armbands during the World Cup, it has been revealed.
England’s soccer team had planned to wear the LGBTQ+ armband along with six other European teams including Germany and Denmark at the World Cup in Qatar before FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards to the players.
And now it has turned out that the sanctions would have been much tougher than initially assumed.
Kane, Wales captain Gareth Bale and the other five skippers would have been prevented from entering the pitch wearing the OneLove armband, it is said.
It comes after it was revealed that six FIFA officials have been dispatched to the England football team’s headquarters Monday before their match against Iran to threaten “drastic sanctions”.
The German Football Association (DFB) claimed earlier this week that England and other teams faced “extreme blackmail” or “massive sanctions” that led them to drop the gesture.
Germany protested FIFA’s stance by covering their mouths for a team photo ahead of their game against Japan on Wednesday to show how they felt silenced.
It’s unclear what England will do when they take on the United States on Friday night.
Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of the Kick It Out campaign against discrimination in football, responded to a tweet that suggested the OneLove captains were “unlimited” for the armbands, writing on Twitter: “What FIFA done goes beyond failing to live up to their values and is a sinister abuse of power that seeks to be silenced – hence the German gag protest.
“I guess if you hang around with autocratic dictators long enough, you start picking up some of their habits.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino received an Order of Friendship medal from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019 and was accused of bowing to the Qatari state’s sensitivities over the sale of alcohol in stadiums during the World Cup and in the armband row.
He also spoke about how he had tried to bring the Women’s World Cup games to North Korea in an extraordinary press conference last Saturday.
The Football Association has dismissed a suggestion that chief executive Mark Bullingham canceled a meeting with FIFA to discuss armbands in October.
The October 12 meeting was attended by members of UEFA’s working group on Qatar, which also includes members of the OneLove group.
However, it was not a full working group meeting and was convened at short notice, with Bullingham pledging to address 800 FA staff in person at a conference for the first time in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting was intended to discuss a number of open issues, of which the armband was just one. The group also sought clarity on commitments related to a migrant workers’ support center and compensation fund, as well as reassurances about the safety of LGBTQ+ fans in Qatar.
While the FA and other OneLove countries had not received a clear answer, they arrived in Qatar bracing themselves for off-field sanctions in the form of fines for wearing the armband.
This remained so until Sunday when rumors surfaced that sporting sanctions would be imposed instead, confirmed to the federations by FIFA on Monday.
“The 12 October meeting was never a full UEFA working group meeting,” the FA said.
“It was a last-minute meeting with FIFA to try and resolve any outstanding issues, of which the armband was one. Three countries represented the group at the meeting and the armband issue was not resolved.’