The host country of the next football world cup is accused of discrimination against immigrant workers in particular.
FIFA came under pressure on Wednesday from several European football federations who want their captains to wear an armband with a rainbow heart design during World Cup matches in Qatar to campaign against discrimination.
France and Germany, the last two world champions, are among 8 of the 13 European football teams that will travel to Qatar and have joined 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.
The 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 attack of controversy for a decade.
« Wearing the armband together on behalf of our teams will send a clear message when the world watches us, » 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 with various colors that represent the diversity of humanity. »
In recent years, footballers have taken advantage of their platform to make statements. Kneeling on the pitch was routine before Premier League games for two seasons after the death of George Floyd, a black American killed by a police officer in the United States.
FIFA backed the knee gesture and must now decide whether to back some of its most influential member federations in a move that could embarrass Qatar.
« An application has also been submitted to FIFA for the armbands to be permitted to be worn for the duration of the FIFA World Cup, » the Welsh Football Federation said in a statement.
FIFA did not immediately comment on the request.
The armbands can be worn at UEFA Nations League matches this week, including by both captains when Belgium host Wales on Thursday.
Blue and yellow colors
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 welcome football fans from all walks of life with open arms, » Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in a speech to other world leaders.
Among the eight European teams supporting the “One Love” human rights campaign are also Belgium and Denmark. The five European teams qualified for the World Cup not participating on Wednesday were Croatia, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Spain.
However, Polish captain Robert Lewandowski – twice voted FIFA World Player of the Year – said this week he would wear an armband in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag in Qatar.
Poland refused to play against 2018 World Cup hosts Russia in a March play-off. Before the game, FIFA and European football body UEFA banned Russian teams from international competitions because the country invaded Ukraine.
The armband campaign emerged as a panel of UEFA member federations monitored progress in Qatar on labor and other human rights reforms ahead of the tournament.