England willing to be penalized for World Cup armband
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England is prepared to face FIFA punishment by wearing the “OneLove” anti-discrimination armband at the World Cup.
Ten European nations have committed to promote inclusion and campaign against discrimination this season.
Eight of them have qualified for Qatar, and FIFA is coming under pressure to allow the captains of each of those teams to wear an armband with a multi-colored heart design at the tournament that kicks off next month.
As yet, no permission has been granted.
FIFA rules prohibit teams from bringing their own armband designs to the World Cup, and require nations to use equipment supplied by the governing body.
But the English Football Association is determined to make a stand even it means being fined for breaking FIFA rules.
A person with knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press that England will wear the armband in Qatar regardless of FIFA’s wishes. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly confirmed, they added the FA requested permission to wear it at the World Cup, but after waiting for three weeks, had yet to receive a response.
That person said a UEFA working group delegation will press for an update this week, with other European federations also determined to wear the armband.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar, while the treatment of migrant workers building projects for the World Cup has been a decade-long controversy.
“OneLove” was initiated in the Netherlands, and Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales got involved in the drive to use football as a weapon against discrimination.
England captain Harry Kane wore the armband for the recent Nations League games against Italy and Germany.
Speaking about the campaign, he said last month: “As captains we may all be competing against each other on the pitch, but we stand together against all forms of discrimination. This is even more relevant at a time when division is common in society.
“Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world is watching.”
The FA has also been outspoken on the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.
It has pressed FIFA for updates on a migrant workers’ center to provide advice and support – and backs the principle of compensation for the families of migrant workers who lost their lives or were injured during involvement in construction projects.
AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
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