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FIFA mulls backflip on controversial World Cup ban

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says the governing body will reconsider its stance on OneLove armbands ahead of the Women’s World Cup.

Infantino’s comments come after the captains of seven European teams planned to wear the rainbow ornament during last year’s men’s World Cup in protest of host nation Qatar’s laws against homosexuality.

However, the campaign was soon abandoned after FIFA threatened players with “sporting sanctions” as the armbands had not been approved under the World Cup tournament regulations.

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Asked about the OneLove armbands following a meeting of the International Football Association board, Infantino promised to “have a position in place well before” Australia and New Zealand co-host the women’s tournament in July.

“What I can say on this issue is I think we all went through a learning process there [at the Qatar World Cup],” he said.

“What we will try to do better this time is to search and look for dialogue with everyone involved – the captains, the federations, the players generally, FIFA – from all over the world to capture the different sensitivities, to explain, to exchange, and to see what can be done in order to express a position, a value or a feeling that somebody has without hurting anyone else.

“In a positive way, we are looking for a dialogue and we will have a position in place well before the Women’s World Cup, I hope so.”

England captain Leah Williamson has previously voiced her desire to don the armband during her side’s World Cup campaign Down Under.

Williamson previously wore a OneLove armband while playing for England in the Arnold Clark Cup, a tournament not organised by FIFA.

Last week, both Australia and New Zealand’s football associations reportedly questioned FIFA’s plan to have Saudi Arabia’s tourism arm sponsor the Women’s World Cup.

Similar to Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s restrictive position on rights for women and LGBTQ+ groups has been heavily criticised by human rights groups.

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