The House of Commons on Tuesday adopted a motion condemning FIFA’s threat of on-field punishment for players at the World Cup wearing armbands protesting host nation Qatar’s stance on LGBTQ2+ rights.
NDP MP Blake Desjarlais moved the motion seeking unanimous consent for the House to “condemn the decision of FIFA to threaten to penalize players and teams who wear ‘One Love’ armbands at the World Cup in Qatar.”
No members objected and the motion was quickly adopted.
Unanimous consent motions do not receive formal votes, and do not always reflect official government policies. Rather, they are adopted only if no MP voices opposition to them when the motion is moved.
The motion reflects the will of the House of Commons, rather than the government itself.
The House motion was the latest criticism of FIFA’s stance, which came in response to plans from several European team captains to wear the rainbow-patterned “One Love” armband during the tournament to protest Qatar’s criminalization of homosexuality.
FIFA has approved a generic “No discrimination” armband to be worn during play. The band was seen on the arm of England’s Harry Kane during Monday’s match against Iran.
That same day, FIFA said it would issue yellow cards to captains who wore armbands that were not approved by the organization. That would mean the player would start the game with a yellow, just one caution away from ejection from that game and the next. European teams were expecting to be fined, the nations said in a joint statement.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge told reporters in Ottawa it was “unfortunate” FIFA was taking a hardline stance on the armbands, calling the move “political decision to restrain the freedom of expression of athletes.”
“Athletes should have the right to express their opinion and at the same time protect the sport environment and make sure that all athletes can compete fairly,” she said.
Since being named host in 2010, Qatar has faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers and women and its suppression of free speech, as well as its hardline stance on LGBTQ2+ rights.
Officials from FIFA and Qatar have urged teams, international spectators and participating nations to respect Qatar’s culture and politics and to keep the focus on the sport.