Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will be present at the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium on Wednesday evening to encourage the Red Devils in their first match of the World Cup in Qatar against Canada. The minister wears the now controversial ‘One Love’ band on her arm, as can be seen in photos, where she can be seen in the stands at the side of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Lahbib can be seen in the grandstand in the company of association president Paul Van den Bulck and FIFA president Infantino, with the band around her arm. Before her departure, Lahbib had indicated that she was traveling to Qatar with a political message around the defense of human rights, including that of the LGBTQ+ community.
Seven European football teams, including the Red Devils, decided on Monday not to wear a captain’s armband in the rainbow colors and with ‘One Love’ – against discrimination and for inclusion – after FIFA threatened with “sporting sanctions”. This led to many outraged reactions.
Lahbib sees her trip to Qatar as a way to support the push for human and labor rights reforms, to “maintain a critical dialogue that will enable Belgium and Qatar to move forward”.
The government had initially planned to send the minister to Qatar only if the Red Devils reached the semi-finals. In the end, she gave the green light to go from the first match. Delivering a diplomatic message should not depend on sporting achievements, Lahbib said.