Skip to main content

Players 'abandoned' over rainbow armbands in Qatar: Deschamps

02 November 2023

Paris (AFP) -

France coach Didier Deschamps told a French National Assembly committee on Thursday that national teams had been 'abandoned' over the issue of rainbow armbands at last year's World Cup in Qatar.

There was discussion before the competition over wearing 'One Love' armbands as a protest because homosexual activity is illegal in Qatar, but the organisers and world football's governing body FIFA warned players not to.

'We were abandoned before this World Cup because the responsibility belongs to the authorities, and so it became the free decision of each and every individual,' Deschamps told a committee looking at 'operational failures within sports federations'.

'The decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar was taken before I was coach,' Deschamps said.

Eight Western European federations considered making their national captains wear a 'One Love' armband, but eventually gave in, citing threats from FIFA.

'In the weeks leading up to (the World Cup), non-sporting issues came up and we asked the players, with different sensitivities depending on their country and culture, to take a stand,' he added.

'We're bound by FIFA's decisions,' he said. 'You have to follow FIFA's recommendations.'

'If there had been a collective and general action, it would have been better,' he said. 'We already had enough to worry about.'

For their official photo before their first match against Japan on November 23, German players held their hands over their mouths to suggest they had been gagged.

The gesture was criticised in Qatar and other non-Western countries for mixing sport and politics.

The president of the French Football Federation at the time, Noel Le Graet, expressed his opposition to the 'One Love' armband.