Former US Women’s National Team (USWNT) star Ashlyn Harris says she hopes that FIFA will allow players to wear the ‘OneLove’ armbands at the Women’s World Cup later this year.
The men’s captains of seven European nations had been due to wear the armbands – which feature the outline of a heart striped in different colors – in their opening matches of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
However, just hours before England captain Harry Kane was scheduled to wear the armband against Iran, FIFA said any player wearing the armbands would receive a yellow card, putting them in danger of being sent off or banned from a later game in the tournament.
“I just think that we have to move forward and we have to be in a place where all are welcome, not just a group of people are welcome,” Harris, a two-time Women’s World Cup winner, told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.
“This is about self-expression, this is about showing up and being authentically you and being accepted for it.
“For me, FIFA can claim all they want that it’s a universal sport that speaks one language – your actions speak louder than your words and it’s about time to make actionable steps where groups of people feel seen and heard and safe.”
In a statement sent to CNN, a FIFA spokesperson said that “no decision has been taken in relation to armbands” at the Women’s World Cup.
“FIFA remains committed to ongoing dialogue with players and member associations,” global football’s governing body added.
FIFA has already been forced to backtrack once this year, deciding to cancel its decision to have Visit Saudi, the official Saudi Arabia tourism authority, as an official sponsor of the Women’s World Cup after a huge backlash from players and governing bodies.
Harris says that by banning the ‘OneLove’ armband, FIFA is showing the LGBTQ community “that we don’t have a place, that we don’t belong, that there is something wrong with it.”
“And I don’t stand for that,” Harris said. “I know the women will absolutely not stand for that. That will create a mess.
“When you’re talking about women in football, who a large majority identify in the queer community, especially at this point, especially in the U.S., so much of the queer community is under attack. I don’t see that going down well with the U.S. Women’s National Team and across other countries.
“So my hope is FIFA stops just talking the talk and actually making actionable steps to create a safe space for all of people, not just a group.”