British football commentator Alex Scott has sent fans into a frenzy at the World Cup in Qatar after wearing a banned 'One Love' armband before England's clash with Iran.
The captain of England and six other countries had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup before backing down after being threatened with yellow cards from FIFA.
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The captains - including Harry Kane of England and Welsh star Gareth Bale - wanted to wear the armbands to promote inclusion and diversity in football and society in Qatar, a nation where same-sex relations are illegal.
However FIFA issued an extraordinary edict on Monday declaring that players would receive yellow cards if they wore the armbands, forcing the seven countries to back down and not wear them.
In response, commentator and former player Scott decided to wear one of the banned armbands during BBC's pre-game coverage of England's clash with Iran.
“I don’t think it’s fair on the players to do this on the morning of the game, they have done incredible work, they knew the rules, it could be one of the biggest games they play, all the players should be thinking about is how to win the game,” she said.
“It would have made a strong statement. Imagine if Harry came out wearing the armband.”
Scott's actions immediately went viral on social media, with fans praising her for taking a stand.
Action speaks louder than words. No protest in history ever needed permission. Massive respect to Alex Scott for donning the OneLove armband despite multiple national team U-turns. pic.twitter.com/8HcCBEKk6D
— VERSUS (@vsrsus) November 21, 2022
FIFA may have banned England from wearing a Pride Armband on field at the World Cup, but English analyst Alex Scott is wearing it on the sideline as she broadcasts to the Nation. Positivity 1 Dystopia 0 🏴👑 pic.twitter.com/AUlLJ6gRjb
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) November 21, 2022
Bravo to @AlexScott for wearing the One Love armband. Shame on FIFA for not letting the respective nations wear it...#FIFAWorldCup #ENG #IRN #BBCWorldCup https://t.co/sngBOnatKV pic.twitter.com/fR25uVVvLM
— Shahan Miah (@shahanshahan) November 21, 2022
— Anthony DiCicco (@DiCiccoMethod) November 21, 2022
Uproar after FIFA bans 'One Love' armbands
The captains of England, Wales, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark were all set to wear the armbands at the World Cup. But the seven European federations released a joint statement after the FIFA edict, saying they would not wear them.
“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband,” the statement read.
“However we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play. We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented.”
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand was among the many to criticise the backdown from the seven nations.
"First bump in the road and they have folded like a pack of cards," he told the BBC.
But German federation president Bernd Neuendorf said the move was an "outrageous demonstration of power from FIFA."
The Dutch association said: "The fact that FIFA wants to punish us on the pitch is unprecedented and goes against the spirit of the sport that unites millions."
The OneLove campaign began in the Netherlands. Its symbol was a a heart-shaped multi-coloured logo aimed at promoting inclusion and diversity in football and society.
The band contained the rainbow colours associated with the Pride flag and had been set to be a strong statement in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships. According to FIFA rules, team equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.
Socceroos captain Mat Ryan said the armband edict had been distributed by FIFA to all competing nations at the World Cup.
"I was informed it would result in a direct yellow card," Ryan said.
Ryan was among 16 Socceroos players who released a video message prior to the World Cup, calling on the host nation to decriminalise same-sex relations.
"Together with our players union we made our statement a month ago ... just trying to influence positive change in the world," he said.
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