Captains will be permitted to wear armbands with messages about inclusion, gender equality and peace at the Women’s World Cup, an about-face for FIFA after rainbow armbands were not allowed at the men’s tournament last year in Qatar.
Team skippers will have the choice of eight different topics as part of FIFA’s “Football Unites the World” campaign, selected in consultation 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.”
Men’s team captains from England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark had planned to wear “OneLove” armbands at the men’s World Cup to protest Qatar’s laws against same-sex relationships.
In a joint statement, however, the federations from those countries said that FIFA had threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing it.
Infantino said in March that FIFA had learned from the “OneLove” armband fiasco, and promised a solution for the women’s global tournament which kicks off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand and is expected to be followed by over two billion people globally.
“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 have three options: they can wear the “Football Unites the World” armband, an armband corresponding to the theme of their choice for the entire tournament, or the armband corresponding 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 promoted through pitchside digital LED boards, large flags presented on the pitch, giant screens in stadiums and via social media.