FIFA, Infantino slammed by fans group over armband threat – ‘Today we feel betrayed’

FIFA president Gianni Infantino Credit: Alamy
FIFA president Gianni Infantino Credit: Alamy

FIFA have been heavily criticised by the Football Supporters’ Association after plans by England and Wales to wear anti-discrimination armbands were dropped under threat of sporting sanction.

The English and Welsh FAs feared Harry Kane and Gareth Bale could be booked for wearing the rainbow-coloured OneLove armband, because it is not a FIFA-approved piece of kit.

FIFA has issued its own armbands to be worn by the 32 competing nations instead, and the FSA issued a furious statement in response, paraphrasing the bizarre ‘Today I feel gay’ speech from FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino on Saturday.

“To paraphrase FIFA president Gianni Infantino – today LGBT+ football supporters and their allies will feel angry,” a statement read.

“Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance.

“Never again should a World Cup be handed out solely on the basis of money and infrastructure. No country which falls short on LGBT+ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should be given the honour of hosting a World Cup.

“Since 2010 we have been raising questions about the suitability of Qatar as a World Cup host. Everyone could see this coming and it’s astonishing that, on the morning of England’s World Cup opener, FIFA are trying to censor players for sharing a positive message.”

Infantino hit out at European critics of Qatar on Saturday, accusing them of hypocrisy over their complaints on migrant and LGBTQ+ rights.

“I think for what we Europeans have been doing the last 3,000 years we should be apologising for next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons to people,” he said during an extraordinary hour-long monologue.

Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out also condemned FIFA’s move.

“We are disappointed that FIFA are intent on imposing sanctions on European nations who choose to wear the ‘One Love’ armband, preventing teams from sending a strong statement to the world that diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the game,” its statement read.

“This decision continues to highlight FIFA’s failure to address concerns of both human rights groups and the LGBTQ+ community in the build-up to this tournament.

“Players and fans should not have had to bear the burden of FIFA’s mistakes and we will continue to support Gareth Southgate, and his team, as they look to explore other ways to support inclusion in football.

“Football should be a game for everyone and Kick It Out continue to stand with the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity.”

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