FIFA has imposed sanctions against any team that wears the OneLove captain armbands throughout the World Cup in Qatar, which Germany calls blackmail. Originally, Belgium, Denmark, England, Wales, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland were all set to wear the armband. However, the world’s governing body of the sport changed their minds at the last minute to block to move.

Germany FA media director Steffen Simon told Deutschlandfunk radio that England faced sanctions if Harry Kane wore the armband. England was the first of the septet to play in the tournament. Although Kane had initially planned to wear the OneLove armband against the USA, the captain was ultimately forced to make the change.

“The tournament director went to the English team and talked about multiple rule violations and threatened with massive sporting sanctions without specifying what these would be,” claimed Simon.

“We were in an extreme situation, in an extreme blackmail, and we thought we had to take that decision without wanting to do so.”

Simon also addressed backlash the teams are facing for not defying FIFA. “I can understand the disappointment,” stated Simon. “We had the choice between the plague and cholera.” 

Germany receive blackmail into change in armbands

These sanctions apparently began with a fine. Yet, it would go so far as booking the captains that wore the armband. The Dutch were the first team to publicly address the issue. Captain Virgil van Dijk did not wear the OneLove armband during their 2-0 victory against Senegal on Monday.

“We stand for the ‘OneLove’ message and will continue to spread it, but our No. 1 priority at the World Cup is to win the games,” read the Dutch statement. “You don’t want the captain to start the match with a yellow card. That is why it is with a heavy heart that we as a UEFA working group, KNVB and as a team had to decide to abandon our plan.”

The OneLove campaign promotes diversity and inclusion. Homosexuality is currently illegal in the host nation of Qatar.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Ulmer/Teamfoto