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FIFA confirms 'One Love' armband Women's World Cup ban after controversy at men's Qatar tournament

England Women will not be able to wear One Love armbands during Women's World Cup after FIFA confirmed the ban laid down during men's Qatar tournament last year remains; Lionesses had planned to wear armband but will be able to choose from one of eight FIFA-sanctioned alternatives

England have worn the One Love captain's armband ahead of the World Cup - but will be banned from donning it in Australia and New Zealand in July
Image: England have worn the One Love captain's armband ahead of the World Cup - but will be banned from donning it in Australia and New Zealand in July

FIFA has announced eight 'Unite' messages players will be able to support during the Women's World Cup - but the ban on the 'One Love' armband will remain in place.

The armband was a source of controversy during the men's World Cup in Qatar last year, when England and six other competing nations announced their plans to wear it during the tournament, only to back down over the threat of sanctions on players from FIFA.

World football's governing body has re-iterated its stance ahead of July's Women's World Cup, while offering up eight alternatives sanctioned by the organisation - but none including any mention of LGBTQ+ rights.

Players and teams will be allowed to promote social causes of their choosing at their respective training bases as well as before and after games, but on-pitch messages will be penalised if they do not sit within the FIFA regulations.

The colours of FIFA's 'unite for inclusion' band are not those of the rainbow or LGBT pride flag, instead, they symbolise race and heritage (red/black/green) and all gender identities and sexual orientations (pink/yellow/blue).

The choices for the colour combinations were inspired by the Pan-African flag and the pansexual flag respectively.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: "Football unites the world and our global events, such as the FIFA Women's World Cup, have a unique power to bring people together and provide joy, excitement and passion.

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"But football does even more than that - it can shine the spotlight on very important causes in our society. After some very open talks with stakeholders, including member associations and players, we have decided to highlight a series of social causes - from inclusion to gender equality, from peace to ending hunger, from education to tackling domestic violence - during all 64 matches at the FIFA Women's World Cup."

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England Women's head coach Sarina Wiegman says she is 'satisfied' with the preparations the Lionesses have made for the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in August

Responding to FIFA's announcement, the FA said in a statement: "We know FIFA engaged with federations and players from around the world on the armbands to be worn at the FIFA Women's World Cup. The next step is for our players to decide which of the options they will choose to wear."

England midfielder Georgia Stanway, speaking ahead of the announcement, told reporters the Lionesses had wanted to sport the 'One Love' armband in Australia - and that they stood by its sentiment regardless of FIFA's decision.

"I think no matter what the outcome is, whether it goes our way or not, we know that we still stand for exactly the same thing," she said.

"If we can or we can't wear the armband we know that we wanted to and we'll stand by the fact that we wanted to. Whatever the outcome is we'll still stand by whatever we believed in and whatever we wanted to be the resolution."

England boss Sarina Wiegman was also asked about the Lionesses' plans for a resolution, and added: "I think there'll be a solution, I know there have been conversations. I think and hope we'll hear very soon what it will be like but I'm very positive that there will come a solution that will fit us."

Analysis: Absence of official backing for pro-LGBTQ+ stance is glaring

Sky Sports News' Anton Toloui:

"If you look at the causes that are going to be promoted by FIFA at this tournament - they have teamed up with the United Nations and World Health Organisation and are looking to push things like inclusivity, ending hunger and education for all.

"But one thing that is crucially missing is there is no official backing of a pro-LGBTQ+ stance. That is absolutely fascinating when you've got a tournament being played by a large proportion of players who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

"Lots of people will be disappointed that this is not specifically set out in what FIFA are saying. It's an issue which is going to anger some players, as is the freedom for players to choose how they represent a cause which means so much to them."

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