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Report: Belgium Told by FIFA to Remove Word 'Love' from Away Shirt at 2022 World Cup

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVNovember 21, 2022

Belgium's Eden Hazard wears the OneLove captain's armband for LGBTQ+ rights at a friendly soccer game of the Egyptian national soccer team against Belgian national soccer team the Red Devils, at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, in Ardiya, Kuwait, Friday 18 November 2022. The Red Devils are in Kuwait to prepare for the upcoming Fifa 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR / BELGA MAG / Belga via AFP) (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

FIFA has instructed the Belgium men's national team to remove the world "love" from the collar of its away kit, according to Julien Laurens of ESPN, creating yet another controversy during Qatar's World Cup.

Per that report, "a source told ESPN that FIFA were not even open to negotiation and categorically refused to discuss the matter with the Belgian federation. At the moment, they have not decided whether they will accept the international federation's request."

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

FIFA have told Belgium to remove the word 'Love' from their away kit, which also includes rainbow trim. <br><br>Belgium say they will wear their red kit for all group-stage games and deal with the situation if they go through. <a href="https://t.co/h0pEX0uwQt">pic.twitter.com/h0pEX0uwQt</a>

The decision comes after England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to not wear OneLove anti-discrimination armbands during the World Cup. FIFA said the captains of the team would receive an automatic yellow card if they wore the armbands.

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Switzerland release a joint statement confirming they will not wear the OneLove armband because FIFA has “made it very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions.” <a href="https://t.co/nOLxADhkL1">pic.twitter.com/nOLxADhkL1</a>

Ben Jacobs @JacobsBen

FIFA want their own armbands worn, and a sporting sanction for refusing to do this and promoting OneLove was always likely to force FAs to change their mind. But it’s been poorly handled. England, for example, had no definitive idea on any punishment until this morning.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, though the country has said LGBTQ+ spectators would be welcomed at the World Cup.

The safety of those spectators was further called into question, however, when Qatari World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman made anti-gay comments to German broadcaster ZDF earlier in November.

"[Homosexuality] is haram. You know what haram [forbidden] means?" he said (h/t Sky Sports). "During the World Cup, many things will come here to the country. Let's talk about gays: The most important thing is everybody will accept that they come here—but they will have to accept our rules."

Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for planning the 2022 men's World Cup, said in a statement leading up to the event, "Everyone is welcome in Qatar, but we are a conservative country and any public display of affection, regardless of orientation, is frowned upon. We simply ask for people to respect our culture."

The nation's human rights record has also been called into question ahead of the 2022 World Cup, with reports of inhumane treatment of the migrant workers who built the stadiums and potentially thousands of deaths among those workers, though Qatari officials have vehemently disputed those figures.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino attempted to defend Qatar's human rights record and its regressive laws surrounding homosexuality and women's rights in a speech for reporters ahead of the start of the World Cup.

"Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker," he said as part of an hourlong speech that was widely criticized by human rights groups.

"We are taught many lessons from Europeans, from the Western world," he added. "What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons."

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