Switzerland disappointed at ‘OneLove’ World Cup armband ban
The Swiss national football team has backed down in the face of sporting sanctions on a pledge to have their captain wear a World Cup armband sporting the “OneLove” message of diversity and inclusion.
FIFA, world football’s governing body, has threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing the multi-coloured armband.
Switzerland was one of ten European nations, eight of them appearing at the World Cup in Qatar, who had signed up to the armband.
Qatar has proved a controversial choice to host the football tournament, in large part because the Middle East country falls short on human rights standards.
Switzerland, France, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Wales and Denmark issued a joint statement saying they felt let down by Zurich-based FIFA.
The statement said they were “very frustrated” by the FIFA decision, which came days after the organisation’s Swiss-born president Gianni Infantino said “today I feel gay” during a long monologue aimed at media criticising the decision to host the World Cup in a country where homosexuality remains illegal.
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FIFA had threatened to punish players and teams with sanctions if their captains wore the OneLove armband. Instead, it offered an alternative armband that is more acceptable to Qatar.
“It’s unfortunate because we wanted to spread a message,” said a Swiss Football Association spokesperson on Monday. The decision for captain Granit Xhaka not to wear the OneLove armband was taken in the interest of “protecting our player so that he is not disadvantaged in sporting terms”.
While participating countries were prepared to accept fines, they could not risk players being sent off for wearing the armband.
Switzerland play their first World Cup match against Cameroon on Thursday.
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