World Cup captains want to wear rainbow armbands in Qatar

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By GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Journalist

GENEVA (AP) — FIFA came under pressure on Wednesday from several European soccer federations to have their captains wear rainbow heart armbands during World Cup matches in Qatar to campaign against discrimination .

France and Germany, the last two World Cup champions, were among eight of 13 European football teams traveling to Qatar to join the “One Love” campaign, which started in the Netherlands. The Dutch team will face Qatar in Group A on November 29.

FIFA rules prohibit teams from bringing their own designs of armbands to the World Cup and insist that they must use equipment provided by the governing body.

Armbands are the latest battleground for players to push political messages related to the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexual acts are illegal and the treatment of migrant workers building projects for the tournament is under fire. a decade-long controversy.

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“Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching,” England captain Harry Kane said in a statement.

The Swiss football federation said it wanted captain Granit Xhaka to wear an armband on which “you can see a heart in various colors that represent the diversity of humanity”.

Football players have embraced their platform for making statements in recent years. Taking a knee on the pitch was routine before Premier League games for two seasons after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a police officer in the United States.

FIFA backed the kneeling and must now decide whether to back some of its most influential member federations in a move that could embarrass Qatar.

“An application to FIFA has also been submitted requesting that permission be granted for the armbands to be worn throughout the FIFA World Cup,” the Welsh Football Federation said in a statement.

FIFA did not immediately comment on the request.

The armband campaign was launched a day after the Emir of Qatar addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York promising a World Cup without discrimination.

“The Qatari people will receive football fans from all walks of life with open arms,” ​​Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in an address to other world leaders.

The eight European teams supporting the ‘One Love’ campaign for human rights also included Belgium and Denmark. The five European World Cup qualifiers not taking part on Wednesday were Croatia, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain.

However, Polish captain Robert Lewandowski – two-time FIFA World Player of the Year – said this week he would bring an armband in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag to Qatar.

Poland declined to face 2018 World Cup hosts Russia in a playoff game in March. Before the match, FIFA and UEFA, the European football body, banned Russian teams from participating in international competitions because the country had invaded Ukraine.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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