Harry Kane of England wearing a rainbow captains armband
Downing Street has criticised Fifa after England and Wales to abandoned plans to wear One Love armbands in Qatar.
The England and Wales teams will now not wear the pride armbands in their World Cup matches on Monday after Fifa threatened to issue players with yellow cards.
England captain Harry Kane and Wales captain Gareth Bale both intended to wear the armbands in their first matches against Iran and the United States, respectively, in order to highlight Qatar’s record on LGBT rights — where same-sex relationships are criminalised.
Asked on Monday what Rishi Sunak thought of the U-turn on the armbands, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Well, I think firstly, we share the FA’s [Football Association] frustration with Fifa’s decision on this which puts players in a very difficult position.
“It is ultimately a decision for the FA.
“On LGBT rights more broadly, clearly Qatar’s policies are not those of the UK, and not ones we would endorse and we will continue to encourage equal treatment in the respect of individual rights and we have raised those issues with the Qataris themselves.”
A joint statement from seven European nations who had signed up to the One Love campaign confirmed the armbands would no longer be worn.
“FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,” the statement read.
“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.
The statement continued: “We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.
“We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.
“Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways.”