KNVB abandons OneLove armband at World Cup after FIFA threatens yellow card
Dutch football association KNVB decided to drop its plans to continue its OneLove campaign at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Oranje captain Virgil van Dijk will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup, the KNVB announced after FIFA said he would get a yellow card if he did.
The KNVB regrets that “it was not possible to jointly come to a solution,” the football association said, NOS reports. “We stand for the OneLove message and will continue to spread it, but our first priority at the World Cup is winning the games. Then you don’t want the captain to start with a yellow card.”
Two Qatari sources close to the Guardian said that the decision was FIFA’s alone. They claimed there was no pressure from Qatar over the rainbow armbands.
The OneLove campaign is a KNVB initiative for connection and against racism in football. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Wales, Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland have pledged support for the Dutch campaign and started playing with the OneLove armband in September this year.
Just three weeks ago, the KNVB said unequivocally that the Dutch men’s national team would continue supporting the OneLove campaign during the World Cup regardless of repercussions. “We will make that statement. And if there’s a fine, let there be,” KNVB secretary-general Gijs de Jong said to NOS.
Eight teams that qualified for the World Cup, including the Netherlands, said they planned to wear the armband in Qatar as a statement against bias and mistreatment of diverse sexualities and genders and also in support of fair treatment and equal human rights for all. Teams planning to use the captain’s armband include the national teams of Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Wales.
But now it seems that FIFA intends to enforce its call to focus on football, not human rights, during the World Cup with more than fines. “That FIFA wants to punish us on the field for this is unprecedented. This goes against the spirit of our sport, which connects millions of people. In the coming period, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA together with the other countries involved,” the KNVB said.
England’s Football Association also confirmed that their team’s captain, Harry Kane, could be booked for wearing the armband. Like the Netherlands, England is also set to play on Monday. As of Sunday, the captain for Wales, Gareth Bale, said he would still wear the armband.
It is not yet clear whether the other countries will also buckle under this new pressure from FIFA.
The OneLove campaign has been met with limited criticism in the Netherlands. The captains of Feyenoord and Excelsior both refused to wear the armband citing their religious beliefs, stirring up some controversy. The KNVB even backed off from its own initiative domestically