England’s Lionesses will not be allowed to wear the OneLove armband at the Women’s World Cup this summer.
But players will be able to wear bands supporting other causes, after consultation with FIFA, who have announced plans to highlight a number of social issues and causes throughout the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Captains will be able to wear armbands corresponding to the cause being highlighted in each round of matches, or wear an armband in support of one cause for the entire tournament.
FIFA has consulted with national associations and players over its plans in a bid to avoid a repeat of the row over ‘OneLove’ armbands which dominated the opening week of the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year.
Captains of the nations involved in the ‘OneLove’ campaign, including England and Wales, were threatened with sporting sanctions starting at a yellow card if the bands were worn, because they would have been a breach of FIFA equipment regulations.
The bands were seen as a potent symbol of tolerance in a country where same-sex relationships were criminalised.
It is understood teams at the Women’s World Cup can promote other causes at team training camps if they choose to, but wearing the ‘OneLove’ band, or any other unapproved band, at a match would trigger sanctions.
The colours of FIFA’s ‘unite for inclusion’ band are not those of the rainbow or LGBT pride flag, instead, they symbolise race and heritage (red/black/green) and all gender identities and sexual orientations (pink/yellow/blue).
Alongside inclusion, the other causes being highlighted are ‘unite for indigenous peoples’, ‘unite for gender equality’, ‘unite for peace’, ‘unite for education for all’, ‘unite for zero hunger’, ‘unite for ending violence against women’ and ‘football is joy, peace, love, hope and passion’.
Speaking prior to FIFA’s announcement, England midfielder Georgia Stanway was asked about the armband situation at a press conference and said: “I think no matter what the outcome is, whether it goes our way or not, we know that we still stand for exactly the same thing.
“If we can or we can’t wear the armband we know that we wanted to and we’ll stand by the fact that we wanted to. Whatever the outcome is we’ll still stand by whatever we believed in and whatever we wanted to be the resolution.”