Tue. Nov 22nd, 2022

Canada’s Atiba Hutchinson will wear FIFA’s official “No Discrimination” armband in Canada’s World Cup opener against Belgium on Wednesday.

While some teams planned to wear “One Love” bracelets, which were seen as a rebuke to the human rights record of host country Qatar, the Canadians did not detail their plans.

But FIFA’s threat of on-field punishment – by way of showing a yellow card – for players forced some World Cup teams to back down on Monday and abandon plans for their captains to wear the armbands in question. That would mean the captain would start the game with a yellow, just one caution away from being sent off for that game and the next.

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FIFA World Cup: European teams ditch armbands after threat of yellow card

European teams may have only expected fines.

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FIFA rules state: “For FIFA final competitions, the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”

No one was wearing a “One Love” band on Monday. England’s Harry Kane wore the approved black “No Discrimination” armband in the match against Iran. The England team also knelt before kick-off as a gesture against racism

It’s “what we stand for as a team and what we’ve done for a long time,” England coach Gareth Southgate said before the game.

Click to play video: 'Chaos in Doha FIFA World Cup fan zone ahead of World Cup opener'

Chaos in the fan zone of the FIFA World Cup in Doha before the opening of the World Cup

Asked Monday if Canada planned to follow England’s example by making the gesture, defenseman Steven Vitoria replied: “I think this group is always willing to help what we believe is right.

“I don’t want to go into those details, but I think our image of Canada as a country is always there to protect the good. It’s a sport, but life isn’t always a sport.”

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A Soccer Canada official later said Hutchinson would wear a “No Discrimination” armband, a team-wide decision.

The armband is the latest dispute to threaten to overshadow the game on the field. Since winning the right to host the World Cup in 2010, conservative Muslim Qatar has faced a barrage of criticism, including the treatment of low-paid migrant workers and women and a crackdown on free speech. He was particularly criticized for the criminalization of homosexuality.

Previously, FIFA planned to introduce a “No Discrimination” campaign starting from the quarter-finals.

A close-up of England’s Harry Kane’s captain’s armband as he wears it during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium on November 21 in Doha, Qatar.

Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

FIFA previously proposed that captains wear armbands with socially conscious, if generic, slogans. With the ribbon “Without discrimination” for the performance in the quarter-finals.

On Monday, he offered a compromise, saying the captains of all 32 teams “will have the opportunity” to wear a “No Discrimination” armband in group matches.

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“FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants to put football to the benefit of society by supporting good and legitimate causes, but this must be done within the framework of the rules of the competition that are known to everyone,” said a FIFA statement.

The statement said FIFA president Gianni Infantino “reiterated his support for the LGBTQI+ community during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

“I have discussed this topic with the highest leadership of the country,” Infantino said in a statement. “They confirmed, and I can confirm that everyone is welcome. If someone says otherwise, it is not the opinion of the country and certainly not the opinion of FIFA.”

The first American diplomat criticized FIFA’s decision on Tuesday. Speaking alongside his Qatari counterpart at a press conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was “always troubling… when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression”.

“It’s especially so when the term is about diversity and inclusion,” Blinken said at the Diplomatic Club in Doha. “And in my judgment, at least no one on the football field should be forced to choose between upholding these values ​​and playing for their team.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Blinken’s remarks.

– with files from the Associated Press

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