This is the first time the World Cup has been held in the Middle East, and while that makes it a momentous occasion, it is also one that has been shrouded in controversy. Starting from the treatment of LGBTQ people and women to the deaths of migrant workers who helped the Gulf state get ready for the tournament.
In Qatar, being homosexual carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. Human Rights Watch released a report last month detailing recent examples of arbitrary arrests and 'ill-treatment in custody' at the hands of Qatari security personnel against LGBT persons.
FIFA claims that measures have been taken to guarantee that no form of discrimination occurred, including human rights training for public and private security personnel and the introduction of legislative protections for all citizens. However, most recently, in a brief statement, FIFA reaffirmed that no alcoholic beverages will be served anywhere in or around World Cup venues.
The reason why Manuel Neuer is willing to challenge FIFA's rules at World Cup
FIFA regulations say that team uniforms cannot include any overtly political, religious, or personal messages or symbols of any kind. After working with other UN agencies to promote different themes during different stages of the competition, the international governing body opted to introduce their own assortment of armbands.
But now Germany's captain Manuel Neuer plans to go against the grain and spread a 'One Love' message, which has been banned by FIFA. It was an effort by each country to highlight the prejudice faced by the LGBTQ+ population in Qatar and demonstrate their unwavering support for the latter. Since same-sex partnerships are illegal in Qatar and homosexuality is a capital offense, the rainbow-colored wristband is part of a movement to combat prejudice of all kinds.
The Bayern shot-stopper recently said that he was unconcerned about FIFA's potential retaliation against his nation due to its human rights beliefs. Neuer announced his intention to wear the divisive 'One Love' rainbow armband during games during a news conference held on Saturday: "Firstly, I want to say that we all haven't experienced something like this - the whole tournament is an experiment. But we have the complete backing of the (German Football Association), we have no fear."
Germany's captain, like those of nine other European teams, will wear an armband supporting a social initiative developed by the United Nations in conjunction with the event. Even Harry Kane, captain of England, Gareth Bale of Wales, and Hugo Lloris of France will continue with their intentions to wear rainbow armbands.
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