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World Cup 2023: FIFA nixes rainbow armband but offers alternatives

FIFA will not allow players to wear the OneLove rainbow armband, shown here on England captain Leah Williamson, at the 2023 World Cup. (Catherine Ivill/UEFA via Getty Images)

FIFA will not allow players to wear rainbow or OneLove armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights at the 2023 World Cup.

Instead, the world soccer governing body has approved eight alternative armbands highlighting social issues — including a “United for Inclusion” armband featuring a rainbow-colored symbol.

Players were banned from wearing the OneLove armband, which features a rainbow-colored heart, at the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar.

For the women’s tournament, which kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, the FIFA-approved “inclusion” armband has a heart in the same colors as the OneLove armband. Rather than the colors of the traditional LGBTQ+ Pride flag, the colors pull from the red, black and green Pan-African flag and the pink, yellow and blue pansexual flag, a deliberate distinction.

The seven other armbands messages include:

  • Unite for Indigenous People
  • Unite for Gender Equality
  • Unite for Peace
  • Unite for Education for All
  • Unite for Zero Hunger
  • Unite for Ending Violence Against Women
  • Football is Joy, Peace, Love, Hope & Passion

Team captains can choose to wear a generic “Football Unites the World” armband or one of the eight alternative options throughout the tournament, or they can rotate to wear the armband FIFA has selected for each round.

While FIFA launched a similar armband initiative for men’s World Cup, no armband with OneLove colors was included among the options.

“The statement that was made at the Euros with every team participating was incredible, every picture we have with a trophy lift there’s a rainbow armband in there,” England captain Leah Williamson said earlier this year. “It’s a great stage and a great time to promote the values we believe in so much, so I hope it’s the same (at the World Cup).

“We’re never shy in saying what we stand for, we’re a squad that promotes inclusivity and equality, we obviously have a number of people that feel very strongly about it.”