England, Wales and other countries had previously planned to have their team captains wear a rainbow-colored armband when they take to the pitch in Qatar as a statement of solidarity with people facing discrimination.
But the football governing body FIFA refused to approve the proposal, instead threatening to issue a yellow card to any players who don’t use the accepted captain armbands.
England’s captain Harry Kane did not wear the “OneLove” armband as his side took to the pitch Monday morning against Iran.
The Football Supporters’ Association said they were disappointed in the decision to ditch the armband.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or forced to leave the field,” the association said in a statement, according to a report in The Standard.
Former player Alex Scott, who is in Qatar reporting for BBC Sports, was seen wearing the OneLove armband before kickoff.
The standoff was just the latest dispute that threatened to overshadow the play. Since being awarded the World Cup hosting rights in 2010, Qatar has faced criticism of its treatment of low-paid migrant workers as well as its criminalization of homosexuality.
The decision came three days after beer sales at stadiums were suddenly banned under pressure from the Qatari government and two days after FIFA president Gianni Infantino delivered an extraordinary tirade defending the host nation’s human rights record.
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