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Fifa World Cup 2022: Teams shelve armband plan seen as snub to host

Since being awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010, conservative Muslim Qatar has faced criticism of its treatment of low-paid migrant workers and criminalisation of homosexuality

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FIFA | FIFA World Cup | Qatar World Cup

AP | PTI  |  Doha 



Iran National Football Team. Photo:@FIFAWorldCup
Iran National Football Team. Photo:@FIFAWorldCup

Fifa’s threat of on-field punishment for players forced World Cup teams to back down Monday and abandon a plan for their captains to wear armbands that were seen as a rebuke to host nation Qatar’s human rights record.

Just hours before the first players wearing the armbands in support of the “One Love” campaign were set to take the field, warned they would be immediately be shown yellow cards — changing the calculus for the seven European teams, which may have expected to merely be fined. The displays are a violation of rules.

The standoff was just the latest dispute that threatened to overshadow the play. Since being awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010, conservative Muslim Qatar has faced criticism of its treatment of low-paid migrant workers and criminalisation of homosexuality.

The decision came three days after beer sales at stadiums were suddenly banned under pressure from the Qatari government and two days after President Gianni Infantino delivered an extraordinary tirade defending the host nation’s rights record.

The captains of seven European nations had vowed to wear armbands carrying the heart-shaped multi-coloured logo of the “One Love” campaign, which promotes inclusion and diversity in soccer and society. That set up the prospect of viewers worldwide seeing a symbol of disapproval with the host country and defiance of Fifa on the arms of England’s Harry Kane, the Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk and Wales’ Gareth Bale on Monday.

But in the end, the teams said they couldn’t sacrifice success on the field. A yellow card is a warning, but two yellows would see a player sent off the field for the rest of the game and banned from the next — a sanction that is intensified in the World Cup format, where teams play just three games before the elimination rounds begin.


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First Published: Mon, November 21 2022. 23:13 IST