The plan was that Eden Hazard (or the vice-captain, if he was not in the starting line-up) would play against Canada with a OneLove captain’s armband, but that is not happening.
“Eden will indeed not play with the OneLove band”, Peter Bossaert clarifies. “There is no other way, the penalties are disproportionate. We can’t risk Eden getting a yellow card before the game starts. We were prepared to pay high fines, we also indicated that in our conversations with FIFA, but there was simply no consultation possible. That means that we cannot continue our action.”
“However, that band is not a political statement,” continues Bossaert. “It is a call for more inclusiveness and a signal against diversity. Months ago we already tried to get in touch with FIFA, I traveled to Switzerland myself, but there was never a concrete answer. In recent days we have pressed even harder, because time was running out. We really went to great lengths to reach an agreement, until FIFA suddenly indicated that yellow cards would be handed out. The referees had already been instructed to give it if anyone wore that band. We wanted to defuse the situation, but we didn’t succeed.”
A group of seven European countries, including Belgium, jointly decided not to wear the OneLove band. It was the English Federation, which announced that Harry Kane would not wear it against Iran, that issued the statement:
“FIFA has made it clear that it will take sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the pitch,” the FA said. “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they risk sporting sanctions – including yellow cards or even exclusions. However, we were prepared to pay fines that normally apply for violating dress codes and we had a strong commitment to wearing the bracelet. We are frustrated by FIFA’s decision, which is unprecedented. We notified FIFA in September of our desire to wear the OneLove bracelet to promote inclusiveness in football, but have not received a response. Our players and coaches are disappointed. They are great champions of inclusion and will express their support in other ways.”
It is remarkable that the French captain Hugo Lloris already decided last week that he would not wear the band. With this he responded to the question of the French federation chairman, but he himself had a strong argument. Read them in the link below:
FIFA refers to its own armband
The world football association FIFA responds in turn. As an alternative to the OneLove band, it refers to its own No Discrimination campaign. Normally that armband would not be worn until the quarter-finals, but now captains can wear it throughout the tournament.
“As a result, the 32 participating teams can wear a FIFA bracelet throughout the World Cup,” said the world football association. At the same time, the organization pointed out that “this decision is in accordance with Article 13.8.1 of the FIFA Regulations regarding equipment”. This stipulates, among other things, that “only captain armbands supplied by FIFA are permitted during final round matches.”
“FIFA is an inclusive organization that wants football to benefit society by supporting good and legitimate actions, but it must do so within the framework of competition rules that are known to everyone.”
Is Belgium looking for alternatives? “Don’t rule anything out”
Is the RBFA now thinking of alternatives? For example, can Roberto Martinez carry the band? Or Eden Hazard in training? “We don’t know that yet,” says Bossaert. “We have to think carefully now, I don’t rule anything out. Look, our position is clear. FIFA’s response has made that position even clearer than ever before, the whole world knows it. Should we then persist in the anger and escalate the conflict? I don’t know, let’s think about it.”
“All countries are perplexed,” said Bossaert. “Most of my colleagues were at the opening match, I don’t think they saw anything of the spectacle. We had other concerns. The fact is that all of us cannot live with the attitude of FIFA. Not even myself. The toughness of FIFA is shocking. We need to critically analyze our relationship. We need FIFA, but they also need us. We will see in the future how to proceed.”
LOVE away shirt of the Red Devils needs to be adjusted
It is remarkable that the design of the Red Devils away shirt incorporates the rainbow colors. The football association developed it together with Adidas. Featuring a striking graphic print – inspired by the world-famous Tomorrowland fireworks, it symbolizes shared values of diversity, equality and inclusiveness. It says LOVE on the inside. The RBFA must now adjust that shirt: “The word LOVE must disappear”, CEO Peter Bossaert grumbles. “It’s sad, but FIFA leaves us no choice. The rest of the equipment remains unchanged.”
In the three group matches, Belgium will always wear the red home equipment. That was foreseen for all the fuss around the OneLove band.
Amnesty International: “FIFA has lost touch with the 21st century”
According to Amnesty International, FIFA has lost all touch with the 21st century. “FIFA does not care about social debates and criticism of the World Cup,” the human rights organization said. “It was bad that they did not provide a compensation fund for the affected workers in Qatar, as requested by Amnesty. That was the least you could do. And now they’re also banning the OneLove band, because that’s what it comes down to. It’s unthinkable.”