Women’s World Cup: The rebellion against FIFA's ban of One Love armband has started

In June 2023 it was confirmed that FIFA was banning the One Love armband for the Women’s World Cup. But rebellion against their decision has already started.

Women’s World Cup: The rebellion against FIFA's ban of One Love armband has started
© Christof Koepsel - The FA / GETTY IMAGES
Women’s World Cup: The rebellion against FIFA's ban of One Love armband has started

On 30 June, The Guardian reported that FIFA had once again banned the One Love armband. This news broke after the ban of the same armband caused a lot of controversy during the Men’s World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

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In 2022, the ban was very strict and FIFA explained that players who would go against the ban would be booked (ie: receive a yellow card) or removed from the field. The same sanctions apply for the Women’s World Cup.

However, this time FIFA anticipated the backlash and offered other armbands that the players could wear. The Guardian explains that:

The themes of the armbands for the Women’s World Cup were picked after consultation with the 32 participating teams, players and United Nations agencies.

Players will be able to choose between eight options including ‘Unite for Inclusion, Unite for Indigenous Peoples, Unite for Gender Equality.’

But why is the One Love armband banned and does the decision make sense?

Why do footballers wear armbands?

Armbands have become the source of many football arguments over the past months. If you’re not a football fan, we’re pretty sure you didn’t even know that the players could wear one which warrants the question: why do they wear them?

According to Field Insider, wearing an armband is an ancestral tradition which started in the 1770s in England as a sign of mourning. Football simply re-used the custom and brought it onto the field.

In football there are many armbands that all have different meanings. The captain of a team wears their armband on their left arm while a cause-oriented armband is worn on the right.

A black armband, for instance, signifies support after a catastrophe or a death. An earthquake, a terrorist attack or the death of a significant figure would warrant the black armband.

An armband is therefore a symbol of respect and acknowledgement of difficult or tragic causes.

Read more: The Lionesses: How much are the footballers getting paid for the Women's World Cup?

The One Love controversy

When FIFA announced that they were once again banning the One Love armband their statement said:

(football) can shine the spotlight on very important causes in our society.

If this is what they believe then why is the One Love armband so controversial?

The birth of the One Love armband

The controversial armband wasn’t meant to become an LGBTQIA+ symbol. Indeed, according to TIME Magazine, when the Dutch Team initiated the movement the armband was supposed to ‘express their support for unification of all people' and 'condemn all forms of discrimination.

The band with the words ‘One Love’ written in a heart with a rainbow background was quickly assimilated to the LGBTQIA+ movement because the rainbow is closely linked to that community.

Why did it become a problem?

The controversy started with the Men’s World Cup in 2022. Indeed, the Cup was taking place in Qatar which is, as TIME Magazine explains, a country where ‘same-sex relationships are criminalized’ and where ‘members of the LGBTQ community have been arrested and mistreated by authorities.’

The armband surpassed what it was first supposed to mean and the ban from FIFA created controversy. Players wanted to wear it as ‘a sign of silent protest.’ In response to that, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, said:

We have and engage in campaigns on different topics, campaigns which are universal. We need to find topics that everyone can adhere to. This is an important element for us.’

FIFA mocked for banning the armband once again

While the controversy was at its peak during the Men’s World Cup, it has come back for the Women’s as the same ban is in place.

The problem is that FIFA now has to face the fact that they can’t stop the LGBTQIA+ cause from entering the field.

Indeed, a lot of star players that play in the Women’s World Cup are not only part of the LGBTQIA+ community but they have become icons of it. The ones that come to mind are, of course, Megan Rapinoe who plays for the USA, and in England, commentator Alex Scott who defiantly wore the One Love armband while she was commentating in Qatar. These players turned icon have millions of subscribers on social media and therefore a significant amount of influence.

Read more: Alex Scott: Here's the six-figure salary of one of the most influential voices in football

This dichotomy has been brought up by numerous Twitter users who are mocking FIFA for banning the armband.

Moreover, during the first day of the Cup, rebellion against the ban has already been spotted among the players. New Zealand captain Ali Riley, made headlines for finding a way to sport the rainbow.

As this is only the beginning of the Women’s World Cup, we can expect more rebellion against the ban to be spotted.


TIME Magazine: The 'One Love' LGBTQ Rights Armband Is Causing a Stir at the Qatar World Cup

fieldinsider.com: Why do footballers wear black armbands?

The Guardian: Fifa blocks rainbow armband and unveils Women’s World Cup alternatives

Sky Sports: FIFA confirms 'One Love' armband Women's World Cup ban after controversy at men's Qatar tournament



Women's World Cup 2023: These footballers may need to compete against their partners Women's World Cup 2023: These footballers may need to compete against their partners