“There is a risk for our captain, and you don’t take that risk.” This is how Paul Van den Bulck, the chairman of the Belgian Football Association, reacts to the smear around the ‘One Love’ captain’s band.
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That colorful band stands for inclusion, diversity and equal rights for the LGBT + community and would be worn by Eden Hazard, among others, as a statement, but nothing comes of it. World football association FIFA announced that whoever wears the band will receive a yellow card. The Belgian football association does not want to take that risk.
“It is indeed bad news that the bracelet is not allowed,” says Van den Bulck. In a joint statement, Belgium, England, Wales, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands said they deeply regret FIFA’s decision.
“At the same time, you can also say that we have long conducted our own campaign with the Football Association on diversity, inclusion and equal rights,” says Van den Bulck. “And that message has clearly reached FIFA: they know how we feel about it. We have indeed achieved our goal.”
Van den Bulck is talking about the ‘Come together’ campaign that has been running since 2021 and that aims to eliminate racism, discrimination, homophobia and other forms of inequality through all kinds of projects.
But the captain’s armband that also radiates those values, is not going to be worn by the Belgian captain. So our country succumbs to the pressure.
“We can linger in that symbol, or we can go for values,” says Van den Bulck. “You also have to look at this pragmatically. We didn’t want to turn this into a fight for power or a battle for that specific symbol, but we wanted to go for values. And we have always been clear about the values we hold dear. FIFA has understood that very well.”