Iranians at the protest against the World Cup during the game Iran vs England
FIFA have tried to press ahead with the World Cup even as they face a barrage of criticism.
On Monday, seven European countries scrapped plans to wear rainbow armbands signaling anti-discrimination and inclusion after FIFA threatened to punish them for it, including handing them automatic yellow cards.
The captains of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland had planned to wear OneLove rainbow armbands during their matches. But their respective football associations later said in a joint statement they were “unable” to do so anymore due to threats from FIFA.
“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and we were strongly committed to wearing the armband,” the associations said. “However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they could be warned or even forced to leave the field of play.”
On the eve of Sunday’s opening game, FIFA President Gianni Infantino hit back at the critics in an outrageous speech in which he said he understood the discrimination against marginalized groups because as a child he had been bullied for having red hair and freckles.
“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. I feel like a migrant worker,” Infantino said. “Of course, I’m not Qatari, I’m not Arab, I’m not African, I’m not gay, I’m not disabled. But I want to, because I know what it means to to be discriminated against, to be bullied.”