By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
Banning anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup in Qatar would send out a “devastating” signal, a world players’ union chief has said.
FIFA is yet to confirm whether captains from nine European nations, including England and Wales, will be permitted to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband at matches in the tournament this winter.
Same-sex relationships and their promotion are illegal in Qatar, which has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers.
FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann urged football’s world governing body to “think very hard” before banning the armbands and expects some players will take a stand on human rights issues at the finals regardless.
“I think that there will be a devastating sign (if FIFA ban the armbands), but I don’t think that it will ultimately happen,” Baer-Hoffmann told the PA news agency.
“I would encourage anybody to think very hard about trying to prevent the players from doing this. And I think ultimately it will be possible to do it.”
Baer-Hoffman likened it to a situation which developed at the men’s Euros last summer when tournament organisers UEFA opened an investigation into whether Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s wearing of a rainbow armband was a political statement.
Ultimately it was decided Neuer, who wore the armband in support of the LGBT+ community in Pride Month, had no case to answer.