FIFA must do more to defend LGBTQ people

Jan. 14, 2023

Danish journalist Jon Pagh from TV 2 Sport was getting ready to do a broadcast from the FIFA World Cup when he was ordered by a Qatari official to remove his One Love armband. The armband was intended to send a message of support for LGBTQ people in the host nation Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. 

Unlike Pagh, who refused to remove the armband, the captains of seven European teams decided not to wear their armbands during the World Cup, which took place from Nov. 21-Dec. 18. In a joint statement before the event, they said they would not be participating in the One Love campaign after the international governing body FIFA threatened to sanction the players with a yellow card at the start of the match. 

Every four years, billions of viewers around the world celebrate the beautiful game of soccer. It is unfortunate that in a sport with so much diversity, FIFA prohibited a meaningful expression of inclusivity. 

The One Love armbands would have been a great way to show support for LGBTQ rights without disrupting the games. They are a subtle yet effective method to raise awareness and show solidarity with those who are fighting for the cause. The armbands do not involve shouting or unruliness. Therefore, soccer players should have been allowed to wear them on the field. 

No country which falls short on LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should have the honor of hosting a World Cup.

It is important to recognize that culture and religion are not static. They should evolve to reflect the changing times. Avoiding the consumption of beer and dressing conservatively were reasonable expectations for those attending the World Cup, but the armbands could have been allowed without compromising respect for Islam. 

 Since LGBTQ rights are a fundamental part of human rights, organizations like FIFA should strive to ensure that all people are treated equally and with respect. 

The One Love armbands could have sent a powerful message to fight back against discrimination and persecution in a country where it is prevalent. This opportunity was lost when FIFA banned them from the World Cup.

Soccer fans across the world should be holding FIFA accountable. Selecting Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup was in clear violation of the organization’s stated commitment to “promote the protection of human rights and to ensure that football is free from discrimination of any kind.” 


 Qatar’s draconian laws against LGBTQ people–which includes denying them access to education, employment and healthcare–should have been a red flag for FIFA officials when they were selecting a host nation. 

By holding the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA sent a message that it is acceptable to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. FIFA’s actions set a dangerous precedent that should be condemned. No country that falls short on LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, worker’s rights or any other universal human right should have the honor of hosting a World Cup.

 When Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, it agreed to be tolerant of athletes and spectators from around the world. This should have included LGBTQ people.

Even though the players of seven European teams decided not to wear the One Love armbands due to concerns about the consequences, they were successful in raising awareness about the need for global LGBTQ rights. 

 The Official KNVB Store, which is the Dutch National Team’s fan shop that produces these armbands, sold out in two weeks after shipping 10,000 of them.

 As One Love armbands keep making headlines and supporters of LGBTQ rights continue making their voices heard, the world will hopefully move towards greater inclusivity.

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