Wembley was lit up in rainbow colours to mark England’s World Cup clash with the United States on Friday in a show of support to the LGBTQ community.
England were one of seven European nations who backtracked on plans for captains to wear rainbow-themed armbands bearing the message “One Love” during the tournament in Qatar under threat of sporting sanctions from FIFA.
In response, Germany posed for a photograph with their hands over their mouths ahead of Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Japan with a statement from the German football association saying “human rights are non-negotiable.”
The English Football Association (FA) have been criticised at home for backing down on wearing the armband.
“Attempting to eradicate discrimination of any kind, including homophobia, from football is something which everyone at The FA believes in strongly and have looked to support for a number of years,” the FA said in a statement.
“The FA will continue to show our support to the LGBTQ+ community and all other communities during this tournament and long beyond, starting with lighting up the Wembley Stadium arch in rainbow colours for Friday night’s match with the USA. #OneLove #FAForAll.”
The display of the rainbow has proved a major talking point in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, with some spectators ordered to remove items of clothing with the logo during the first phase of matches.
Heavy sanctions were a possibility
The head of English football said on Friday FIFA threatened “unlimited” sanctions against players who wore the “OneLove” rainbow-themed armband for World Cup matches in Qatar.
England, Wales and five other European nations planned to wear the armband to promote diversity, but abandoned the initiative after football’s world governing body threatened them with sporting sanctions.
The armbands were widely viewed as a response to the laws in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said the FA believed FIFA were effectively threatening to ban players.
“It was unlimited. They would take disciplinary action against any player that was wearing the armband on top of having a yellow card,” he told ITV Sport.
England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland said they had written to FIFA in September informing them about the “OneLove” armband, but did not receive a response.
“We had a lot of meetings with FIFA over that period and on Saturday before the game we felt we’d reached an understanding where we would wear it,” added Bullingham. “We hadn’t got permission but we would face a fine for it.
“Unfortunately then, on the day of the game, they gave us 10 minutes’ notice – two hours before we were due to go to the game.
“They came here with five officials and they ran us through a scenario where, at a minimum, anyone wearing the armband would be booked and face disciplinary action on top of that.”