DOHA, Qatar — The opening match of the World Cup The leaders of a A number of European soccer federations have arrived at a The Fairmont Hotel is the ideal venue for your meeting. This five-star resort was converted into the headquarters of the tournament. FIFA It was a rare setting to find leadership a fight. It would be a difficult task, however, with matches just about to start.
The federations, as well as their representatives were able to take control of the affairs. FIFA We had met on and off over the past months. a The group of national teams plans to sport multicolored armbands featuring the message. “One Love” During their matches in the tournament at Qatar. FIFA had been displeased by the idea, but the teams — which included the tournament contenders Germany, England, the Netherlands and Belgium — felt a Tacit Peace was reached. The armbands would be worn by the teams. FIFA They would be silently fined for violating its rules, and then look the other direction.
a However, things changed dramatically in the conference room at Fairmont Hotel on Nov. 20, With the room’s large windows and their sweeping views of the Persian Gulf to her back, Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s second-ranking executive, told the federations that their armbands would not only be against the tournament’s uniform regulations but also considered a Provocation against Qatar, tournament host and other Islamic countries and African nations. Samoura stated that they would not be permitted. These Europeans were shocked.
It was 24 hours later. a A flurry of meetings, threats and raised voices as well as brinkmanship are all part of the just a This weekend is memory as France and Argentina prepare for the World Cup Final Sunday FIFA Not immediately available to respond a Ask for comment about the discussions. Interviews with several participants were conducted during the talks. Many asked to remain anonymous because it was not permitted to share private discussions with the news media.
One Love, an initiative to increase inclusion in the Netherlands, was launched three years ago. However, it has since become one the largest controversies of all time. World Cup. It remains instructive a month later as an extraordinaryly powerful display of power FIFA It has the power to control its member federations and use the leverage to get them to agree to the terms of the agreement. a social justice campaign set to take place on the sport’s biggest stage could be silenced in a One 24-hour Period
Their soccer federations insisted on the idea that captains would wear One Love armbands even after the European teams arrived in Qatar late November. FIFA, advised about the plan months earlier, had yet to respond to the idea, despite letters mailed and talks held at the soccer body’s Zurich headquarters.
These are the European nations that compete in World Cup — England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Wales and Switzerland — and two nations that had not qualified, Norway and Sweden, had found common cause months earlier. A growing criticism of Qatar has led to a lot of confusion. World Cup At home they planned to promote their inclusion message in matches at the tournament. This campaign was launched after host nation faced difficulties. a Ten years of criticism of its human rights records, treatment of migrants laborers, and criminalization homosexuality.
They were eager to support minority groups and to highlight their concerns. However, they also wanted to avoid offending their host sensibilities.
September they went public with the planEach soccer federation will release an announcement at the same time. In statements, captains like Harry Kane of England, Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands and the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Germany — some of the game’s biggest stars — spoke about their eagerness to share the message.
As the tournament approached, the federations searched for clarity. FIFA It is possible to imagine what the armband might look like when the captains enter the field without permission FIFA.
To a meeting on Oct. 12 at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland, representatives of the teams met with high-ranking FIFA officials, including the governing body’s deputy secretary general, Alasdair Bell, and FIFA’s human rights department, Andreas Graf. Officials discussed the possible compensation scheme for migrant workers, labor reforms in Qatar as well as safety concerns about gay attendees. World Cup. The One Love armband was the last item on our agenda.
“We expressed quite strongly that we would wear the armband, that for us there was no discussion about it,” Gijs de Jong is the secretary general to the Netherlands soccer federation. He spoke out for The Sunday Review. They told The Sunday Review. FIFA Officials from federations said they were prepared to pay fines for violating the agreement World Cup They understood uniform regulations to mean the highest punishment FIFA Such could be imposed a violation.
It FIFA Officials replied they would talk to the officials about the armband plans and their return a response. They didn’t. News media inquiries went unanswered, too.
De Jong claimed that he was taking FIFA’s silence as a sign that while soccer’s governing body was clearly not pleased about the plan, it might look the other way long enough for the World Cup To play.
“I thought in this case that they would not forbid it but also not give permission, just sort of let it go,” de Jong said. “I thought that would happen, and maybe we would get a fine.”
This all changed as soon as the teams arrived at Doha just days before the tournament.
Some of the teams had events with migrants at their bases and their captains were asked questions about their plans for the armbands. Some of the teams reaffirmed their support for this idea. Hugo Lloris (France captain), who had worn One Love during European games, stated that he wouldn’t join the campaign. World CupCiting Qatari respect, a Conservative Muslim country and first Arab host to the World Cup.
Despite Lloris’s sentiments, nothing appeared to have changed for the other teams. They held firm to their convictions despite being alarmed. a speech by FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, who bashed European attitudes toward Qatar on the eve of the opening game.
They had let him speak when the European representatives entered. a Fairmont meeting room You can sit around a table so large that one executive present compared it to ones used by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, they held further talks on the rights issues and the armband, which by that point had a competitor. Few days earlier FIFA Surprisingly, announced an armband campaign of its own: Its versions bear slogans like “No Discrimination,” “Save the Planet” “Education for All.”
The European delegation praised that campaign — which was co-sponsored by the United Nations — but reiterated that their captains would be wearing One Love armbands as planned. The federation representatives received their final report. a It was a feeling of being in a compromise.
“We will wear the armband, we will acknowledge your campaign and you will take it slow with disciplinary procedures,” When asked about the mood following that breakup, de Jong replied. “Fine us after the World Cup.”
But within 24 hours, however, mood and tone had completely changed. After a summit for FIFA’s 211 member federations led by Infantino, the European teams and representatives of Norway and Sweden, two countries that did not qualify for the World Cup However, he was outspoken about Qatar World CupWe were then ushered back to the conference room. There, Samoura, a A former U.N. official, Senegal from who was absent at the previous meeting, attended. a More forceful tone
She warned those in attendance that punishments would follow immediately and target players. There were many voices. According to a Samoura was a European official that attended the meeting. a Coffee break even recommended a Belgium delegation said that its team should continue to promote One Love and it may encourage African teams, who might wear them to protest past colonial abuses. FIFAWhen directly asked by reporters about the incident they said that the organization would not comment on specific details.
The meeting drew nearer to its two hour mark. All those who were present had to leave the venue for Al Bayt Stadium. World Cup’s opening game, a The question was ultimately answered FIFAIf the teams proceed, what are your plans? A FIFA Official suggested that the match commissioner could take the armband of any captain wearing it. “We said, ‘Good luck with Virgil van Dijk,’” De Jong was referring to the Dutch 6-foot-5 captain.
Nevertheless, the sporting punishments were introduced for the first-ever time after the meeting ended. a There is a distinct possibility.
While Qatar lost the first game to Ecuador in Qatar, members of the European Group gathered at the stadium and prepared for what lay ahead. The group quickly agreed that there would be no match for Ecuador, and they were ready to go. a punishment for their players — FIFA Was then threatened to hand out a yellow card to any captain in violation of the uniform rules — they would not put their top stars in a They had to be in a position they could make a choice.
However FIFA There was still no clarity. World Cup had begun. The European teams were scheduled to play three more matches the day after the opening match. England was the first to receive the award, on Monday, the day after the opening match. a high-profile delegation from FIFAThis includes Manolo Zubiria, competition director. FIFA’s head of media relations, Bryan Swanson, at its hotel in Al Wakrah.
There, FIFA The pressure was increased. According to de Jong, who said he was called immediately by Mark Bullingham, the English federation’s chief executive, FIFA It was made very clear that the threat of a yellow card was only a warning. a minimum sanction. “They implied it could be a one-game ban for a player,” de Jong said.
All federations were in agreement that FIFA Threat was “unprecedented” . a Legal challenge. They were out of their time. “What will you do on the pitch?” de Jong said. “Send your lawyer out there?”
It was a failure. Teams announced they had requested their captains to remove the armbands. The tournament continued as planned, with the players complying.
All the teams took to the field with no problems. Many of the captains had armbands with emblazoned graphics on them when they took to the field. FIFA-approved messaging.