FIFA has confirmed that players are banned from wearing OneLove armbands at the Women’s World Cup this summer. Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe was among those to be refused permission to don the accessory, with world football’s governing body announcing its decision on Friday, June 30.
According to reports, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) put in a request on behalf of McCabe several months ago, seeking approval for the number 11 to sport either the OneLove or rainbow design in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The Arsenal star is herself a queer athlete, as are many of her teammates and competitors from other nations.
While forbidding the OneLove armband, FIFA unveiled eight alternative options for players to wear at the Women’s World Cup that highlight various social issues, although none display LGBTQ+ allyship specifically. The approved versions include those that promote uniting for “Inclusion”, “Indigenous Peoples”, “Gender Equality”, “Education for All”, “Ending Violence Against Women”, “Peace”, and “Zero Hunger”, as well as one reading: “Football is Joy Peace Love Passion”.
The “Unite for Inclusion” band features a multicoloured heart similar to the OneLove design, featuring red, black and green stripes symbolising race and heritage, and pink, yellow and blue stripes symbolising all gender identities and sexual orientations.
? FIFA have revealed eight different armbands available to each captain at the Women’s World Cup but the ‘One Love’ or rainbow design will not be allowed. The ‘Unite For Inclusion’ option uses the same colours as One Love in the same order. pic.twitter.com/S2bhnwyoyj
— Kathryn Batte (@KathrynBatte) June 30, 2023
One cause will be spotlighted in each round of matches, and captains can choose to wear the corresponding armband as it changes throughout the competition, or they can wear one design for the entire tournament. Should players not want to wear any of the options, there is also a “Football Unites the World” armband available.
It is understood that teams can promote other issues at their respective training camps, as well as before and after games, but on-pitch messages that are not sanctioned by FIFA will be penalised.
The move comes after the governing body reportedly consulted with national associations and players in a bid to avoid a repeat of the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year. There, captains of various nations planned to wear OneLove armbands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and other minority groups as they competed in a country that criminalises same-sex activity. However, players were threatened with yellow cards for breaching FIFA equipment regulations if they did so, sparking major controversy and backlash.
The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team, along with its players, has taken many steps to showcase its support for the LGBTQ+ community, most recently wearing rainbow-coloured numbers for its friendly against Zambia in Tallaght Stadium. McCabe has been very open about her sexuality in recent years, taking part in various campaigns, as have many other players in the squad.
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The team is heading to the Women’s World Cup later this month, kicking off their campaign against host nation Australia on July 20. The game will take place in front of a sold-out crowd, 80,000 spectators strong, and is the opening fixture of the tournament.
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