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Blinken Slams FIFA Armband Ban

FILE - Two of Germany's players present the captain's armband — a symbol against discrimination and for diversity — in Frankfort, Sept. 21, 2022. FIFA banned the wearing of this armband because Qatar's laws are strongly against non-heterosexual expression.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called FIFA's ban on an armband promoting LGBTQ rights at the World Cup in Qatar "concerning".

Asked about the ban following talks with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Blinken said: "It is always concerning when we see any restrictions on freedom of expression, especially when the expression is diversity.

"No one on the football pitch should be forced to choose between supporting his values and playing," he added.

The armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. FIFA's move has been criticized in Europe.

Speaking in Doha hours after watching the United States held to a 1-1 draw by Wales, Blinken told a press conference that no team should be forced to choose between "supporting his values" and playing.

England, Germany and five other European teams abandoned plans to wear rainbow-themed "OneLove" armbands at the World Cup because of the threat of FIFA disciplinary action.