British ice hockey player hopes to wear OneLove armband after World Cup U-turn

A professional ice hockey player plans to wear the OneLove anti-discrimination armband abandoned by England and Wales during the Qatar World Cup in support of ‘minorities who have been let down’.

The armband was to be worn by the captains of several European nations to send a message against any form of discrimination, but that decision was overturned just hours before England were due to kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran after that FIFA has threatened to issue a yellow card to any player who carries one.

The reversal also came just days after FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s pre-tournament speech in which he said “today I feel gay” and “today I feel gay”. (as) a migrant worker,” referring to the discrimination his family faced as Italian migrants in Switzerland.

Ice hockey player Zach Sullivan, from Reigate in Surrey, is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and plays for Manchester Storm.

While Sullivan admits British ice hockey won’t have as big an impact as the World Cup, he is trying to find one of the armbands to wear during his season with Storm in the Elite Ice Hockey League .

“I think it’s really important for the minorities that the OneLove armband represents, that there is a sport, a global sport, that supports their fight and their fight for equality,” the 28-year-old told the PA news agency.

“I fully understand that wearing it in British ice hockey won’t have the same effect as someone wearing it on the biggest sporting stage in the world, but it’s the least I can do, to show that minorities who have been let down, let down, and feel useless, again, have a place to go if they want to play sports.

“Ice hockey is certainly not perfect, but overall we are making progress in making our sport a more inclusive and tolerant space, with real actions, not just empty words.”

The 2022 World Cup is taking place this winter in Qatar, a country where same-sex relations are criminalized.

A joint statement from the federations involved in the OneLove campaign said: “As national federations, we cannot put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions, including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup matches.

“We were prepared to pay the fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and we were firmly committed to wearing the armband.

“However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they could be warned or even forced to leave the field of play.”

Meanwhile, Germany have won praise for their protest to FIFA over the OneLove anti-discrimination armband – players covered their mouths for the team photo ahead of their World Cup opener loss to Japan on Wednesday, to point out that they feel silenced by the game’s global governing body.

Sullivan added that he thought the situation was a missed opportunity for the teams to make a statement, and called the U-turn on the armband “embarrassing”.

“FIFA turned around and said ‘no, you’re not allowed to wear them’, which went from a token gesture to something quite big,” he said.

“European countries actually had the opportunity to say ‘you know what, FIFA told us not to wear this – we’re going to wear it anyway’. It would have been something that was noticed on the stage. world.

“For the captains and the FA to turn around and say ‘no we’re not going to do that’ for a yellow card you’re basically saying human rights are worth talking about unless I don’t receives a yellow card.

“That’s how much human rights are worth talking about and it’s just embarrassing in my opinion.”

Catherine J. Martinez