The captains of at least eight European countries want to be part of the campaign
FIFA is under pressure after plans were revealed by eight European football federations for their captains to wear rainbow armbands at the upcoming Qatar World Cup.
Current FIFA rules prohibit teams from bringing their own armbands to the flagship international tournament, and state that they must use equipment that has been provided by the global governing body.
Ten countries – the Netherlands, England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales – have joined the ‘One Love’ campaign which began in the Netherlands and claims to promote inclusion while opposing discrimination.
And with all but two of the nations – Sweden and Norway – headed to Qatar for the World Cup in November and December, the plans to wear the armbands which feature colors meant to represent all heritages, backgrounds, genders and sexual identities, could cause controversy in the conservative host country.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar, where the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers building the stadiums for the tournament has also come under the spotlight.
Announcing the campaign, England captain Harry Kane claimed that “wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”
The Swiss federation said it wanted Kane’s counterpart Granit Xhaka to don an armband on which “you can see a heart with diverse colors which represent the diversity of humanity.”
Though FIFA has previously supported gestures such as the taking of the knee, it must now make a call on whether it backs the eight European countries doing something that could embarrass the Qatari hosts, with the Welsh FA confirming it has sought permission for the armbands to be used throughout the tournament.
At a session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, the Emir of Qatar promised to deliver a World Cup without discrimination.
“The Qatari people will receive with open arms football fans from all walks of life,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani vowed.
Elsewhere, Poland and its captain Robert Lewandowski have revealed that the striker will sport a blue and yellow armband in solidarity with Ukraine while representing his country in Qatar.
The FC Barcelona star made the promise to former Ukraine coach and football icon Andrey Shevchenko.
Poland reached the 2022 World Cup after refusing to play against Russia in a March semifinal qualification playoff in Moscow, before UEFA and FIFA banned Russian teams from international competitions as a response to the military operation in Ukraine.
After receiving a bye to the playoff final, Poland beat Sweden 2-0 to book their place in Group C in Qatar, alongside Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Lionel Messi’s Argentina.