the armband of discord

A divisive symbol of peace, unity and inclusion. A piece of fabric that tears participating bodies and teams in the 2022 World Cup. After insisting that their captains can wear it on their biceps during the World Cup, the seven European federations behind the armband ” One Love “ announced on Monday, November 21, to give up regretting wearing this symbol against discrimination in Qatar. A country where homosexuality remains illegal.

The federations of the Netherlands, Germany, England, Belgium, Denmark, Wales and Switzerland have endorsed, in a press release, a decision of the International Football Federation (FIFA), which fell on Monday morning . “FIFA has been clear that it will impose sporting sanctions [un carton jaune] if our captains wore this armband on the pitch. » If they were ready to pay fines, a sanction usually applied for non-compliance with the rules on outfits, the national authorities ensure “not being able to exhibit [leurs] players to sporting sanctions »and instructed their captains to put their armband back on during the World Cup.

In this showdown, FIFA showed on Monday that it had more of a grip. Its settlement implying that at the World Cup, “captains must wear armbands provided by FIFA”, the governing body of football limits itself to applying it. If she remembers that she is “an inclusive organization that supports all legitimate causes, such as ‘One Love'”, FIFA has yielded neither to the requests for exceptions filed since September by the seven European nations nor to the pressure of public opinion, as this controversial World Cup approaches. Incidentally, its president, Gianni Infantino, goes against the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which validated this armband in September for League of Nations matches.

“As players, we can’t do anything”

Announced a few hours before the entry into the running of the three teams concerned (England, Netherlands and Wales) – whose captains had reaffirmed the day before their intention to wear this armband – this ban was respected. But appreciated. “FIFA forced us not to wear it. We had to because you don’t want to start such a big game with a yellow carddeplores the Dutch Davy Klaassen, at the end of the victory of his team against Senegal (2-0). But that doesn’t change anything, we continue to take our initiative. » In the bays of the Al-Thumama stadium in Doha, his partner with the Oranje, defender Nathan Aké, confirms: “As players, we can’t do much. If the decision-makers decree that we don’t have the right to wear such an armband, it’s obviously frustrating, but we can’t do anything about it. » Not without risking losing big sportingly. Or, why wait for athletes to stand up against all injustices where so many others are sailing in the wind of compromise? The full scope of activism lies in what you are willing to give up, boxing legend Muhammad Ali or, more recently, American football player Colin Kaepernick knows something about this.

Read also The Kaepernick revolution, or how Black Lives Matter gained traction in American stadiums

“I prefer to stay within my framework, that of a playerpleaded the French captain, Hugo Lloris. We are asked to play football, to best represent our countries in sport. » If France had participated in the movement ” One Love ” in the fall, the goalkeeper of the Blues had, before the decision of FIFA, to give up putting it on, by ” respect “ for Qatari culture.

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This six-colored armband enclosed in a heart was not, however, thought of as an avatar of the emblem of the LGBTQ+ communities. According to its initiators, in any case. Aiming to “to defend living together and [à] refrain from any form of discrimination”words so vague that it seems unthinkable to oppose them, the armband ” One Love ” evoked a mysterious closed chest. Everyone put what they saw in it, since no one knew what it contained: the defense of LGBTQ+ rights, anti-racism, gender equality, the defense of the rights of people with disabilities, or the protection migrant workers.

Rainbow hats removed

In this, Gianni Infantino could have pinned this piece of elastic fabric to his arm. “Today, I feel Qatari; today, I feel Arab; today, I feel African; today, I feel gay; today, I feel handicapped; today, I feel like a migrant worker”declared the powerful boss of FIFA, Saturday, November 19, placing himself resolutely on the side of the discriminated against in his virulent plea in defense of Qatar to open the World Cup. “Today, he clearly does not feel armband”quipped former English international Gary Lineker on Monday on the BBC.

Read also: World Cup in Qatar: the virulent plea of ​​Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA

About the LGBTQ + communities in Qatar, the FIFA President wanted to be reassuring on Saturday. “I have spoken to the highest authorities in this country on many occasions, and they confirm that everyone is welcome, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation. If anyone says otherwise, that’s not the country’s opinion, and clearly not FIFA’s. »

But, on Monday, a Welsh LGBTQ+ supporters group reported that its members had been ordered by the security members of their team’s match against the United States to remove their rainbow hats stamped with the Welsh dragon, on the pretext that“it was a forbidden symbol in the stadium”. However, at the end of 2020, the general manager of the event, Nasser Al Khater, affirms that on this subject, “FIFA has its own guidelines, its own rules and regulations. Whatever they are, we accept them”. In “everyone’s doha” where Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani welcomed the world with open arms at the opening ceremony on Sunday, the instructions did not reach everyone.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers World Cup 2022: at the opening of “its” World Cup, Qatar is at the heart of the game, except on the ground

In the flood of criticism, the England coach is swimming against the tide. “I understand FIFA’s position, as it would set a precedent. And it will be extremely difficult then to know where to place the cursor., testified Gareth Southgate. If the body stuck to its press release, it confirms that modifying its rules could open the door to many requests for slogans on the armbands. And so that everyone can find their way around, FIFA has drawn “a series of campaigns promoting great universal causes around the issue of positive change”, in particular relayed by the armbands of the captains. Among the themes selected, ecology, education, child protection and the fight against discrimination.

Far from this controversial context, on Monday, the speakers of the Khalifa International Stadium roared, with each of the six goals scored by England – and two by Iran – a remix of Free from desire, of Gala. An Italian singer notoriously committed against homophobia. Failing to wear the armband he had provided, the captain of the Three Lions, Harry Kane, fell back on one of those offered by FIFA: “No Discrimination”.

The second jersey of Belgium retoqué

The controversies swimming in bench, we learned, Monday, November 21, two days before their entry into the running, that FIFA had failed the second jersey of Belgium. A rainbow-toned tunic developed with the outfitter of the Red Devils to symbolize equality, inclusion and freedom, and directly inspired by the Belgian music festival Tomorrowland. To the point of taking up their logo in the word ” To like “, inscribed inside the collar of the jersey. But FIFA ensures that its decision has nothing to do with the meaning of the message sent by the liquettes: the display of a mark not being authorized by the regulations, the international body has urged the Belgians to cover this inscription. Which they did, but opted to play red in all three of their group stage encounters. If this clothing reframing took place during the summer, its revelation on the second day of the World Cup adds to the controversy ” One Love “.

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