FIFA demands removing ‘love’ from World Cup jersey
FIFA has told the Royal Belgian Football Association that it must remove the word ‘love’ from the collar of the team’s away jersey.
The move comes in tandem with a demand from world football’s governing body that various European teams abandon a move to wear a ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband aimed at promoting anti-discrimination issues throughout the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The request handed down from FIFA comes as Belgium prepares for its opening World Cup fixture on Wednesday against Canada.
According to ESPN, FIFA refused to enter dialogue with figures within Belgian football regarding the issue - with the outlet stating that the Belgian FA has not yet decided if it will honor FIFA’s request.
Belgium is not allowed to play in their colorful warm-up shirt and they have to cover the word 'love' on their white shirts. FIFA has completely lost it. pic.twitter.com/XAmVF7OVyj— Gryffix (@Gryffix) November 21, 2022
The situation also presents a logistical issue for Belgium, given that the word is stitched into the collar of the team’s second strip and would require their kit supplier, Adidas, to send a replacement jersey to Qatar.
The design, though, isn’t linked to the ‘OneLove’ campaign which has garnered so much media attention in the days before the World Cup kickoff but rather a collaboration with the popular dance music festival Tomorrowland, with the jersey having been on sale for several months in Belgium.
It remains unclear what sanctions FIFA may impose if Belgium proceeds with plans to wear the jersey in their first World Cup game.
The impasse comes hot on the heels of the growing ‘OneLove’ armband scandal which prompted FIFA to inform several teams, including England, that players who wear unofficial apparel during the tournament could potentially be issued with a yellow card by officials.
FIFPRO, the global union which represents footballers, hit out at FIFA in a statement this week saying that players wishing to wear rainbow-themed armbands aren’t necessarily making political statements.
“Players must have a right to express their support for human rights on and off the field of play and we will support any of them who will use their own platforms to do so,” it said.
“We maintain that a rainbow flag is not a political statement but an endorsement of equality and thus a universal human right.”