Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney condemns FIFA's ban on OneLove armband

According to the Minister, the ban on the OneLove armband at Qatar World Cup is "a political intervention by FIFA to actually limit freedom of expression".

Irish Minister Coveney, who recently criticised the Qatar World Cup and FIFA.
Image: Twitter - @simoncoveney

Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney spoke out against FIFA’s decision to impose sanctions on football captains wearing the OneLove armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights while playing at the Qatar World Cup.

During a discussion in the Dáil on Tuesday, November 22, Coveney answered questions on the Government’s advice to football supporters travelling from Ireland to Qatar for the World Cup. Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú cited concerns over the decision to allow Qatar to host the event, saying: “We are all aware of the treatment of women, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the disgraceful way migrant workers have been dealt with”.

He also added that “there was an awful lot of talk beforehand in relation to what they were going to do in highlighting these particular issues and that hasn’t happened”.

Coveney informed the Dáil of the comprehensive World Cup travel advice available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website and that Ireland has a consular team in Doha that is “ready and waiting to support people if they need support”. The Irish Minister also criticised FIFA’s decision to allow Qatar to host the World Cup and the recent sanctions they imposed on teams that wished to wear the OneLove armband to take a stance against the violations of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

“I think it is absolutely extraordinary that FIFA has effectively chosen to lean on national football associations in different countries to prevent players wearing an armband to support LGBT+ rights.” he said. “That is a political intervention by FIFA to actually limit freedom of expression through sport, which is worthy of significant mention and criticism.

Minister Coveney’s words come as the human rights violations perpetrated in Qatar, especially regarding women, LGBTQ+ people and migrant workers, are at the centre of a global conversation while the country is hosting the 2022 World Cup.

To show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and promote inclusivity, eight European football teams were to participate in the OneLove campaign and their captains were supposed to wear armbands with the colours of the rainbow while playing on the field. However, the football teams decided to drop the campaign after FIFA announced that the team captains sporting the accessory on the field would be given yellow cards, making them more vulnerable to suspensions.

The Irish Minister is not the only one to have openly criticised FIFA’s decision, as many have spoken up against it. On Wednesday, the German national football team protested FIFA’s ban on the OneLove armbands right before their first match by posing for a photo with their hands on their mouths to symbolise being silenced.

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