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Kick It Out accuse Fifa of ‘sinister abuse of power’ over OneLove armband ban

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independent.co.uk

Fifa has been accused of a “sinister abuse of power” in the OneLove armband row by Kick It Out.The captains of seven nations, including England and Wales, had been due to wear the rainbow-coloured anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.However, the plans were dropped when it became apparent in the hours before England’s first match of the finals against Iran on Monday that sporting sanctions would be imposed.It is understood a booking to the captain wearing the band would have only been the starting point of the sanctions, with Harry Kane, Gareth Bale and the other five skippers also set to have been prevented from entering the pitch wearing it.Germany protested against Fifa’s stance by covering their mouths for a team photo before their match against Japan on Wednesday, to highlight how they felt silenced.

Wales have said they will not protest before their match against Iran on Friday, and it is unclear what England will do when they face the United States on Friday evening.Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, responded to a tweet suggesting the OneLove captains faced ‘unlimited liability’ over the armbands and wrote on Twitter: “What Fifa did is beyond failing to live their values and is a sinister abuse of power designed to silence – hence the German gag protest.“I guess if you hang around with autocratic dictators long enough, you start picking up some of their habits.”FIFA president Gianni Infantino received an Order of Friendship medal from Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2019, and has been accused of bowing to the sensitivities of the Qatari state over the sale of alcohol at stadiums during the World Cup and in the armband row.

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