If not clear, the message was strong. This Wednesday, through press releases published by various federations, we learned that the captains of eight European teams qualified for the World Cup (Germany, England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Wales and Switzerland) will wear a rainbow bracelet in the next Nations League matches, but also during the competition in Qatar, a country where homosexuality is illegal.
It is within the framework of this campaign entitled OneLove, initially launched by the KNVB (the Dutch Federation), that Raphaël Varane, the captain of the Blues against Austria (2-0), wore this piece of multicolored fabric on his arm, on Thursday . . But it is still not certain that Hugo Lloris, when he returns from injury, is authorized to imitate him during the World Cup. When FIFA was contacted to find out if they would allow the armbands to be worn in Qatar, they simply confirmed “having received requests from member associations”, adding “ (what) He will respond in due time.”
According to our information, the international organization was only notified last Monday, through an email sent by Gijs De Jong, secretary general of the KNVB, to Fatma Samoura, his counterpart at FIFA. Among the recipients of this message was Michele Uva, director of football and CSR (corporate social responsibility) at UEFA. Because the European confederation fully supports this project, which allows it in particular to embarrass FIFA, with which it is in a permanent guerrilla war, since the issue risks upsetting the Qatari organizer.
Rainbow flags are not recommended at the World Cup
As a reminder, in April, Abdullah al-Ansari, the World Cup’s head of security, advised LGBT spectators to avoid displaying their sexuality in public, for example by waving the rainbow flag in the stands. In such a context, could FIFA ban the use of these famous armbands at the risk of shocking part of international public opinion?
It is unlikely because this initiative has been welcomed by several big names in European football (Varane, Harry Kane, Manuel Neuer…), but also because, according to someone close to the case, other non-European federations, including the United States , it is said that they are about to join the OneLove campaign. One last argument could finally convince FIFA and the Qatari organizing committee: these armbands do not exactly reflect the colors of the LGBT flag.
Explanations from Jaap Paulsen, Head of Communications at the KNVB: “The OneLove campaign not only concerns LGBT people, it denounces all forms of discrimination, linked to racism, sexism, anti-Semitism… Thus, among the colors we have chosen, there is red, black and green, which evoke the pride that can be felt based on origin and skin color, but also pink, yellow and blue, which reflect the pride that can be felt based on gender and sexual orientation. »
Far from being trivial, these symbolic considerations should favor the acceptance of the rainbow armband by Qatar, and thus save FIFA a global controversy.