England players likely to avoid sanction if they wear rainbow colours against Hungary

FIFA did not act against human rights protests during March’s World Cup qualifiers.

Jamie Gardner
Friday 13 August 2021 14:02
Harry Kane wore a rainbow armband during England’s match against Germany at Euro 2020, which took place during Pride Month (Mike Egerton/PA)
Harry Kane wore a rainbow armband during England’s match against Germany at Euro 2020, which took place during Pride Month (Mike Egerton/PA)

England players showing their support for LGBTQ+ rights by wearing rainbow colours during the World Cup qualifier in Hungary are likely to escape sanction.

The PA news agency understands that world governing body FIFA would be unlikely to take disciplinary action against a player making such a gesture, provided it was done in a respectful way.

It appears to open the door for players to wear rainbow colours on armbands, boots or undershirts at the match in Budapest on September 2, though all instances will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

The Hungarian government has been criticised for passing legislation prohibiting the distribution of content in schools which is deemed to promote homosexuality or gender change.

Formula One drivers protested at the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this month, with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel reprimanded for wearing a ‘same love’ t-shirt during the hosts’ national anthem.

FIFA considers every case on its own merits, but has not taken a hard line on recent political protests – including the Norway team’s human rights message in support of migrant workers in Qatar before the World Cup qualifier against Hungary.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino urged national associations to take a common sense approach towards players taking the knee in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and said that players protesting in such a way during a FIFA tournament would “deserve applause, not punishment”.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino applauded player protests linked to the BLM movement last summer (PA)

FIFA’s position follows controversy over the rainbow colours during Euro 2020.

A request from the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, to illuminate the city’s stadium in rainbow colours for the Germany v Hungary Euro 2020 match was rejected by European football’s governing body UEFA on the grounds that it was politically motivated.

Reiter described UEFA’s decision as “shameful”.

Tournament sponsor Volkswagen then said it had been told by UEFA that it could not use rainbow-coloured advertising boards at matches in Baku and Moscow due to the legal framework in those countries.

The German car manufacturer said it regretted UEFA’s decision.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was under review by UEFA for wearing a rainbow armband in his side’s matches against France and Portugal, but the German federation (DFB) said the review was dropped after the armband was deemed to be a symbol for diversity and in a good cause.

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