Ban on the “One love” armband at the World Cup: Sammy Mahdi (CD&V) asks for a reaction from Hadja Lahbib, the minister answers him

CD&V president Sammy Mahdi denounced on Monday the decline of several European teams, including Belgium, in the face of the threat from the International Football Federation (FIFA) to sanction teams whose captain wears the “One Love” armband during the World Cup. in Qatar. He expects a strong reaction from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hadja Lahbib, who must attend the first match of the Red Devils on Wednesday evening against Canada.

“We cannot, at each match, put one knee on the ground (in protest against racism, editor’s note), and, in Qatar, give in to the threat of a yellow card”, affirmed Mr. Mahdi.

Send a strong signal

The seven European teams which had planned to wear the colored armband “One Love” in favor of inclusion and against discrimination gave up on Monday in the face of the threat of “sporting sanctions”. This announcement sparked a number of outraged reactions.

For Sammy Mahdi, “our European teams can send an important signal on the ground in favor of human rights, women’s rights and those of holebis, under the eyes of Qatari leaders and FIFA monks who blindly follow the views of this autocratic regime.

In his eyes, if the protest cannot be done on the ground, it must at least be done through “a strong political statement” from Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib (MR), who will travel to Qatar on Wednesday to attend the first match of the Red Devils, against Canada. “And a yellow card from the corrupt bosses of FIFA towards Belgian politics, we will gladly take it”, concludes the president of the CD&V.




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Minister’s reaction

Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will travel to Qatar for the first game of the Red Devils on Wednesday, carrying a political message of defense of human rights, including those of LGBT. This is what she reaffirmed on Monday, when questioned by Belga on FIFA’s ban on team captains wearing a “One Love” armband.

“My diplomatic appointments have been confirmed, so I will be able to have a frank discussion,” said Ms. Lhabib (MR), on the sidelines of a European event at Egmont Palace.

Seven European teams which had planned to wear the colorful “One Love” armband in favor of inclusion and against discrimination gave up on Monday in the face of the threat of “sporting sanctions” from the International Football Federation (FIFA), an announcement which sparked a number of outraged reactions.

“It’s a FIFA decision, I don’t have to interfere, so my message will be political. It will be to defend human rights, LGBT, to defend minorities, to talk about women’s rights ”, as well as labor rights, underlined the head of Belgian diplomacy.

She said she was shocked by recent comments by Khalid Salman, a former Qatari international and 2022 World Cup ambassador, who called homosexuality “mental damage” on German public broadcaster ZDF.

The Minister sees her visit to Qatar as a way of supporting the pursuit of human and labor rights reforms, of “maintaining a critical dialogue which will allow Belgium and Qatar to move forward”.

A questionable decision

“We can criticize this World Cup, but it is not us who decided it, this decision was taken 12 years ago, and it is open to criticism. Now, it has allowed advances in labor law, but they must be pursued, that’s the whole point of going there, ”added the minister, who must meet workers on site. “A victim compensation mechanism is already in place, we have to see how to go further.”

At first, the government had considered sending the minister only in case the Red Devils reached the semi-finals, but the government as a whole finally gave the green light for a presence from the first match. It was not appropriate to make the delivery of a diplomatic message dependent on sports performance, according to Ms. Lahbib.

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