Captains at the Women’s World Cup will now have the opportunity to wear armbands displaying messages promoting inclusion, gender equality, and peace. This marks a change in policy for FIFA, as rainbow armbands were not permitted at the men’s tournament in Qatar last year.
The captains will be able to choose from eight different topics as part of FIFA’s “Football Unites the World” campaign, which were selected in collaboration with the 32 participating teams, players, and United Nations agencies.
“After some very open talks with stakeholders, including member associations and players, we have decided to highlight a series of social causes – from inclusion to gender equality, from peace to ending hunger, from education to tackling domestic violence – during all 64 matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
Seven of the armbands are “Unite for” either “Inclusion,” which features a heart in a rainbow of colours, “Indigenous People,” “Gender Equality,” “Education for All,” “End Violence Against Women,” “Peace,” and “Zero Hunger.” An eighth armband is “Football is Joy, Peace, Hope, Love, Passion.”
The captains of the men’s teams from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark had intended to wear “OneLove” armbands during the men’s World Cup as a protest against Qatar’s laws that discriminate against same-sex relationships. However, the federations of these countries released a joint statement stating that FIFA had threatened to penalize any player wearing the armband with a yellow card.
In March, Infantino, the president of FIFA, acknowledged the controversy surrounding the “OneLove” armbands and promised to find a solution for the upcoming women’s global tournament, which will begin on July 20th in Australia and New Zealand and is expected to have a global viewership of over two billion people.
“Football unites the world and our global events, such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, have a unique power to bring people together and provide joy, excitement and passion,” Infantino said in Friday’s statement. “But football does even more than that – it can shine the spotlight on very important causes in our society.”
Captains are given three choices: they can either wear the armband that says “Football Unites the World,” an armband that represents a theme of their choosing for the entire tournament, or an armband that corresponds to the theme of the specific match day.
“It’s not just about what happens on the pitch,” FIFA’s secretary general Fatma Samoura said. “We are committed to using football’s power as a force for good… United, we can make a difference.”
The messages will also be advertised using digital LED boards located on the sidelines, large flags displayed on the field, large screens in stadiums, and through social media.
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