DOHA, Nov 24 (Reuters) – France’s sports minister on Thursday urged the national soccer team to make their voices heard amid a row over the threat of sanctions from FIFA for the ‘OneLove’ armband.
On Wednesday, all German players held hands in front of dozens of photographers on the pitch before kick-off after world football’s governing body FIFA threatened sanctions against seven European teams if they wore the armband as a symbol of diversity and tolerance.
France are not among the seven sides and French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet said it would “follow FIFA guidelines”.
“I think FIFA’s decision to ban the One Love armband will be debated for a while longer. Do I wish there had been a space for full freedom? The answer is definitely yes,” Amelie Oudea told Castera the public television broadcaster Public Senate.
“Are there still spaces where our French team can continue to express their commitment to human rights? The answer is yes. The Germans are showing it.”
While player and coach Didier Deschamps said they were just following orders, Oudea Castera hopes things can change.
“We still have weeks ahead of them being able to express themselves freely and use these spaces of freedom to spread their messages,” she said.
“They also have these values. They belong to a country that upholds these values and it is important that they represent them.”
Asked if he would wear the armband ahead of France’s opening game against Australia, which they won 4-1, captain Hugo Lloris had said: “FIFA organizes the competition and defines a framework and rules.
“We, the players, are challenged to play football, to represent our countries as well as possible in sport.
“I prefer to stay in my frame, that of a player and a competitor, but there are indeed different causes that are commendable and that we must support. But at the end of the day, FIFA decides on the organisation.”
The OneLove bracelets, meant to send a message of tolerance, solidarity and resistance to all forms of discrimination, have been in the global spotlight since FIFA threatened several European team captains with yellow cards if they used them in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual people and transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Wales all gave way, but on Wednesday the Dutch FA (KNVB) said they were together examining their legal options.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Adaptation by Clarence Fernandez
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