Craig Foster lashes out at FIFA over 'gutless' move at World Cup

Craig Foster, pictured here alongside FIFA boss Gianni Infantino at the World Cup.
Craig Foster has taken aim at FIFA and Gianni Infantino at the World Cup. Image: Getty

Aussie football icon Craig Foster has added his voice to the condemnation of FIFA's decision to ban the 'One Love' armband at the World Cup in Qatar. The captains of seven European countries had planned to wear the anti-discrimination armbands during their matches in Qatar, but backed down on Monday when FIFA declared they would receive yellow cards if they wore them.

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The One Love armband features a heart-shaped multi-coloured logo aimed at promoting inclusion and diversity in football and society. The band contains 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.

But according to FIFA rules, team equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images. And during competitions, the captain of each team "must wear the captain's armband provided by FIFA".

Reacting to the ban on the armbands on Tuesday, former Socceroos player Foster was seething.

"Perfect example of how FIFA sees its own anti-discrimination statutes as malleable according to political and economic considerations," Foster tweeted.

"The global LGBTI community now sees the authenticity of the game's commitment to inclusion. When money's involved, there is none. It's another disgraceful, gutless decision by FIFA to threaten sanctions against players for promoting the basic rights of the LGBTI community in Qatar and globally during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"A complete absence of leadership, commitment to equality and a regrettable demonstration that everything in football is for sale. I feel for the global LGBTI community, players and fans who must feel used and abandoned."

Football world in uproar over FIFA decision

Australia's gay footballer Josh Cavallo expressed similar sentiments, saying FIFA has shown his sport isn't for everyone.

"FIFA you have lost my respect," Cavallo posted on social media. "All the work we're doing to make football more inclusive you have shown that football isn't a place for everyone."

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand criticised the backdown from the seven nations, saying on BBC: "First bump in the road and they have folded like a pack of cards."

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."

Craig Foster, pictured here alongside fellow commentator Lucy Zelic in 2019.
Craig Foster alongside fellow commentator Lucy Zelic in 2019. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

England captain Harry Kane, who had initially planned the wear the armband, said he was disappointed in the decision from FIFA.

“I said yesterday we wanted to wear it," he said after England's 6-2 victory over Iran. "That decision was taken out of my hands today. I turned up to the stadium with the armband that I wore and I was told I had to wear that [the official FIFA one]. It’s out of our control as players. I’m sure the FA and FIFA will continue those discussions but most importantly today we focused on the game and got a great result.”

FIFA said on on Monday that captains of all 32 teams "will have the opportunity" to wear an armband with the slogan 'No Discrimination' in the group games.

The governing body also refused Belgium permission to wear their second strip because of the word "Love" in the collar combined with a rainbow-coloured trim on the shirt.

If the word 'Love' is removed from the inside of the shirt, the team is allowed to wear it. The design was inspired by the fireworks of Belgian's famous music festival Tomorrowland and stands for diversity, equality and inclusivity.

with AAP

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