Call it the law of unintended consequences. The “OneLove” armbands FIFA banned at the World Cup in Qatar are suddenly selling like hotcakes.
The armbands, intended to send a message of tolerance, connection and opposition to all forms of discrimination, have been in the global spotlight since FIFA threatened several European team captains with yellow cards if they wore them to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Now the company that makes the bands in Utrecht, the Netherlands, says it is sold out after shipping 10,000, mostly in the past two weeks.
“The big boom came actually with the World Cup coming up and for sure the statement of FIFA to not allow these captain bands on the field”, said Badge Direct BV CEO Roland Heerkens in an interview.
Demand for the bands, which were originally launched in 2020 as part of an inclusiveness campaign by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), had been only “so-so” until this summer, Heerkens said.
The design features a rainbow flag in the shape of a heart with a number 1 in the middle, surrounded by the text “One Love” on either side and the words that “football connects” in cursive below.
The KNVB campaign opposes discrimination on the basis of race, skin colour, sexual orientation, culture, faith, nationality, gender, age and “all other forms of discrimination.”
An initial boost came when team leaders from Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Norway, Wales, Sweden and Switzerland decided to use them.
Now demand is coming from around the globe from consumers who want “to have the band and make a statement, all the way up to the European Parliament, who just ordered 500 pieces,” Heerkens said.
European teams considering legal options in ‘OneLove’ armband dispute
The seven countries that were prevented by FIFA from wearing ‘OneLove’ armbands during the World Cup in Qatar are jointly considering their legal options, the Dutch football association (KNVB) said on Wednesday.
Global football governing body FIFA threatened to book any player wearing the armband, which was introduced to support diversity and inclusion.
England, Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark said they backed down from their plans to wear the armband as a result.
Instead, Germany’s players placed their hands over their mouths in a symbolic protest during a team photo ahead of their 2-1 loss to Japan on Wednesday.
The KNVB, however, said the seven nations would not be taking the dispute to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“All seven countries whose captains would have played with the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband have jointly taken the decision not to go to the CAS at this time,” the KNVB said.
“However, we are jointly considering our legal position. We remain 100% behind ‘OneLove’ and its message… We are therefore continuing the ‘OneLove’ campaign, at home and abroad.
“Previously, the captains of the Netherlands and nine other countries played with the ‘OneLove’ armband on during Nations League matches. These fall under (European football body) UEFA and this caused no problems.”